Sarde a Beccafico

Today’s Regional Italian dish takes us back to Sicily… to Palermo to be precise.  It is a very popular dish and like all popular dishes, every family has its own recipe or twist.  Also each Sicilian city has its variations.  This is my family’s version, from my father’s side… and it is the Palermo version.  I LOVE sardines… it is my favourite fish ever.  It is really easy to find in Italy (and it is relatively inexpensive), but it is not so easily available around here.  So when I saw these at the market… I bought them immediately.  Besides being delicious, sardines are really good for you as they are full of Omega3!  But what are Sardines “beccafico”?  They are baked sardine rolls filled with breadcrumbs, raisins and pinenuts and drizzled with orange or lemon juice and a little sugar, to obtain their very typical agrodolce (sweet and sour) taste.  The origin of the name of this dish is quite interesting.  It appears that originally this dish was made with birds (called baccafichi) and that sardines replaced them as they were much cheaper!  Cheap??  And delicious??  Does that sound perfect to me only??  Try them and you will love them too!  Buon appetito!

Sarde a Beccafico

5.0 from 2 reviews
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4
  • 1 kg sardines, cleaned, heads and backbones removed
  • 2 tbsp orange (or lemon) juice
  • 1 tsp sugar (optional)
  • Bay leaves
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 10 tbsp breadcrumbs, toasted
  • 50 gms raisins (or sultanas)
  • 50 gms pinenuts
  • 1 tbsp parsley, chopped
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  1. Roast the breadcrumbs by putting them in a frying pan and cooking them on a medium fire while constantly stirring with a wooden spoon. They have to become golden brown. Do not burn them or they will become bitter.
  2. Mix all the filling ingredients together and keep aside.
  3. Put a tsp of filling on each sardine and roll it like an involtino and put them in an oven proof dish, greased with olive oil.
  4. Put 1 bay leaf to separate each roll.
  5. Mix the orange or lemon juice with the sugar and pour it all over the rolls.
  6. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180°C – 355°F for 10 or 15 minutes.
These are good warm, cold or at room temperature (the way I prefer them!).

Sarde a Beccafico

Sarde a Beccafico

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  1. Eha says

    Well, I first have to get to the Sydney Fishmarket – but that ‘small’ obstacle removed the dish looks unreally delicious [don’t think there is really such a term but we’ll create one!] So simple to make, but with raisins and pinenuts and so on and so forth . . . yum!!

  2. C. Brown says

    I used mackerel as I couldn’t find sardines. Had to fillet them, though, which took forever!

    I fixed with pasta con i broccoli arriminati because I had thought it also had sardines (but, really, had anchovies).

    I didn’t know if the olive oil was supposed to be in the stuffing mixture or whether one was supposed to brown the breadcrumbs in there, so left it out.

    Anyway, I’m not a huge fan of fish in the first place, the fish was really fishy tasting, and I didn’t think I put enough stuffing in each fish. So it seemed to definitely had some promise, but I probably wouldn’t try it again, even with sardines.

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