Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Pasta con le Sarde – Small Fish, Big Flavor, Long Shelf-Life

I’m no survivalist, but like any responsible chef I like to have a few cans of sardines stocked away, just in case. If times ever get tough, I could survive for hours, maybe days on them; but since things are going pretty well, I decided to dust off a can, and show you my version of Sicily’s famous, pasta con le sarde.

This will work well with many kinds of pasta, but I think bucatini is the best. It’s hollow, which sucks in the sauce, and flavors the noodles from the inside out. And, there’s a lot of flavor to suck. Speaking of which, be sure to get sardines that are packed in olive oil.

The flavor and texture is going to be better, plus you get sardine-infused olive oil that comes packed with the fish, which makes a great addition to our sauce.  By the way, if you can’t get fresh fennel, you can crush up a teaspoon of fennel seeds, and make a pretty decent version using that.

Like I said in the video, if you can get fresh sardines, they’re amazing in this. Fresh sardines are common around here, and they are such a delicious and under-appreciated fish. However, I honestly enjoy this version just as well, and seriously hope you give it a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 2 large or 4 appetizer sized portions:
1/4 cup extra virgin oil olive
1 cup diced yellow onion
1 cup diced fennel
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 anchovy filet
1/4 cup chopped golden raisins
small pinch saffron
1/4 cup white wine
2 cans (4-oz each) sardines packed in olive oil
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
pinch red chili flakes
salt to taste
1/2 pound bucatini pasta, or thick spaghetti
1/4 to 1/2 cup reserved pasta water, as needed
3-4 tablespoons roughly chopped fennel fronds, toss some in pasta at the end, and save some for the top
toasted breadcrumbs to garnish

28 comments:

idaabrahamsson said...

Hi, Chef John!

I find it more common that a recipe, like this one, ask for golden raisins. In my lokal store, here in Norway, I can't get a hold of these raisins. So my question is as follows: Can you, in general, switch out the golden raisin with regular raisins in a recipe? Or is the flavour-profile to diffrent from each other?

Chef John said...

yes, any raisin will work! Enjoy!

truthspew said...

Hmm gotta try this one.

Julie said...

I've never used saffron or fennel before so I'm looking forward to trying out this recipe. I love your passion for food and teaching us to cook like a chef. Your humor paired with my morning cup of coffee makes my day! Thanks Chef John.

Michael Kukula said...

Hello Chef John,
What would be a good substitute for the sardines? I am not a big fan of seafood.
Thanks,
Mike

Chef John said...

Sorry, but I can't give a substitute for seafood in a seafood pasta recipes! That's like asking how to make chocolate cake without chocolate.

Chef John said...

Sorry, but I can't give a substitute for seafood in a seafood pasta recipes! That's like asking how to make chocolate cake without chocolate.

Michael Kukula said...

Thanks Chef,
Looking forward to the next recipe.

Kenwi said...

For a moment I thought this was polabok. A Filipino noodle dish with chicharon, smoked fish, shrimp broth... I think you know where I'm going with this.

Bar Col said...

Thanks Chef John, starting to snow here in Cork City in chilly Ireland, this brings me right back to my summer holidays, touring and most importantly eating in Sunny Sickly, great food and wine. Great produce here in Ireland if you ever find yourself in this part of the world.

Brendan said...

Hey Chef, Just wondering if using plain ol' spaghetti and plain raisins would considerably alter the overall "presence" of this dish.

Thanks and sorry for my being a plebeian, it's just that sadly I just don't have these things at our grocery- (not to mention I already have these items).

S/V Blondie-Dog said...

Greetings Chef! I'll has ya' knows 'dat I gots' me a tin of kippered herring fillets languishing in da' back of my pantry and I was a-wonderin' whether it be okay to substitute these for the sardines in oil? My finicky lady-friend turned me on to that funky kippered fishy flavor a-whiles back and I still be a-liking it a lot. Thanks! You're da' best!

Chef John said...

I'm sure dem herrings would work nicely in this! ;) Thanks!

Sick Vans Blog said...

What a bizarre recipe. That plate of sardines looks straight nightmarish. Can't wait to give it a try.

Brett Luttrell said...

Hi, Chef John.
Could you substitute anchovy paste for the anchovy fillet?
Love the site! Thanks...

thisdamecooks said...

Chef John, what can I substitute for the fennel? Incredibly hard to find veggie here in Puerto Rico. How about dill?

Chef John said...

Yes, fresh dill and tarragon have a similar flavor, as do fennel seeds as I explained in the post.

Stink Dieren said...

it was abosutely brilliant, gave me a "chef" feeling.

PhillyBear said...

Thank you, Chef! The video piqued my interest to say the least. Made this tonight...so much better than I anticipated. Absolutely great. And, I finally used that can of sardines! (I made half the recipe). I'm going to share this recipe with everyone I can, the food I made tonight is gone so I'm not sharing that! Awesome.

Michael Williams, D.O. said...

Just discovered your blog. Outstanding! I'm hooked on Chef John! My wife got me a Kitchen-Aid mixer with the hook and all for Xmas. I am a food addict now....fun stuff. I have Always loved cooking but you have taken me to a new level. Thx. Doc Mike (sicillian)

Unknown said...

Hi chef john,

I am eating my pasta con le sarde right now, it's very good !

Now the thing is that fennel is a bit expensive here. So I was wondering if you know a vegetable to substitute it with (perhaps just use more onion), and then add fennel SEEDS (which is not so expensive here)?

Because I'd like to make it a second time, but save on the fennel :)

Chef John said...

Unknown, yes, check the 3rd paragraph!

Richard Pape said...

Just tried it today turned out pretty good. Thanks Chef John for getting me to try some of the different vegetables in the produce aisle.

Joseph Hammond said...

This was excellent! I admit that I used more anchovies, more pine nuts, more raisins, and more garlic than you said to but it was soooo gooood!

Paul D said...

This is a truly gangster execution of a seafood pasta. Golden raisins and fennel...you're always turning it up a notch above the rest Chef John! P.S. Salient point on the extra moisture too.

Esra Bakker said...

Chef John you rocked my world, I have never had anchovies and the thought of it gave me chills. But I listened to your advise and the dish was absolutely delicious! Also I was afraid of the raisins, no need they wwere perfectly balanced. however I do feel stupid to forget the pine nuts, I love those! thanks for this amazing recipe, I will definitely make it again!

Mannaggia said...

Chef John, I want to use fresh sardines. How would you cook them? Saute?

Frank van Roij said...

Hi Chef John,
Thanks for recipe tried it liked it, added capers and dill. was never a good follower of recipies keep good idears comming.
gr Frank van Roij