sardines escabeche {ffwd}

First Layer

I think the anticipation of making this week’s recipe for French Fridays with Dorie, Sardines Escabeche, was one of the most-dreaded in the book. While I sympathize with others’ trepidation, I wasn’t bothered by it, because I like fish, even oily fish, and even sardines, In fact, I had a little trouble finding fresh sardines this week and was disappointed to think I wouldn’t get to try it.


The stars aligned and I found sardines at the largest Whole Foods in my area. And, I remembered to ask for them to be cleaned. Last time I bought fresh sardines, I didn’t realize they were whole, guts and all, so had to quickly teach myself to clean them out. Yuck… I hadn’t read the recipe through and didn’t realize they needed to be filleted, so this time around, I learned how to fillet sardines, courtesy of Jamie Oliver. It wasn’t too bad. I’ll take filleting over cleaning any day!


I couldn’t quite imagine what this dish was going to be like as I put it together. The sardine fillets are quickly fried to partially cook them, arranged in a dish, and strewn with thyme, rosemary, bay leaves, and sun-dried tomatoes. Then thinly sliced vegetables (onions, carrots, celery, and garlic) are sautéed and then simmered in olive oil, vinegar and spices (and a little bit of ketchup). The hot vegetable mixture is poured over the fish and chilled overnight.

We ate the sardines escabeche with crusty bread for dipping in the flavorful oil and a beet walnut salad on the side — a picnic of sorts.


There was a reverse verdict on this one. Howard really enjoyed it. For me, the fish was just too fishy. It reminded me of pickled herring, which is one of the few fish preparations that I don’t really care for. On the other hand, I loved the oily pickled vegetables. While I doubt I would make this with sardines, I would make the vegetables, or maybe even the bonne idée, using shrimp instead.

To see how the other Doristas made out with their escabeche, check out their links here. You can find the recipe in Dorie Greenspan’s book Around My French Table or this similar one on Dorie’s website.


Posted on 24 April 2015, in Fish, French Fridays with Dorie and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. Wish I would have used the shrimp…

  2. peggygilbey814628432

    Hi Betsy, this dish looks quite interesting. I do like sardines but prefer them grilled with salt and lemon but your dish takes on a whole new dimension perhaps worth trying.

  3. Yep, gutting sardines is an experience. I had kitchen gloves on! Sorry this one wasn’t a hit for you, but at leats Howard loved it.

  4. Looks beautiful. Almost makes me consider eating sardines!

  5. Howard was a fan??? Good for him!

  6. Looks great, Betsy! I’m sure you read that Rosa (I think) said it was much better after 2 nights, so I wonder if the fishiness of the sardines mellows more? I’m actually curious about that because I plan to make it with sardines! I’m jealous you were able to find them and I’m glad for you they were pre-cleaned. :)

  7. This one was hard to visualize, wasn’t it? I am glad you found the sardines and that at least one of you liked them.

  8. Betsy, This one was definetly dreaded by me…I really dislike sardines! However, I’m glad you were able to get them made. Sorry they were not something you really enjoyed! At least they were a winner for Howard! I think I would have really enjoyed this dish with the shrimp…but I didn’t read the Bonne Idee until it was too late to get them made. A make up for sure!
    I did get the Cheez-it-ish Crackers made…something I’ve wanted to get done for a while! They were wonderful!

  9. You did a gorgeous job of filleting those sardines. That, in itself, is quite impressive. Sometime this summer I am going to go to Whole Foods and get a can of the recommended Sardines and try them. They would be a great lunch to take out when I patrol and work this summer. But, for now, I passed although I will try the Shrimp Escapeche at some date in the future. I didn’t think this dish photographed very well – it’s a hard one – but your photo is beauitiful. The beet and walnut salad seems as if it would be the perfect addition to this dish. I need to get on your Duck Fat Potatoes bandwagon. Just cannot get my arms around that but I think I am the one missing out. Glad Howard enjoyed his first FFWD meal after arriving home from his long journey.

  10. I also accidentally bought un-cleaned fish once. Never again! The process of cleaning out the guts was so gross and the process of removing the scales was a disaster. I was still finding little sticky little scales hidden around my kitchen weeks later. Yuck. The work of filleting the sardines was tricky, but not nearly as bad as cleaning them.

  11. Well I don’t like pickled anything so I am glad I skipped this one. Even though it was a split verdict sounds like the dish was successful. Hopefully you can try with shrimp next time.

  12. I would have like to try this one as I seem to be in the minority of Doristas who love fish. I think it sounds interesting.

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