Salted sardines and anchovies (Σαρδέλες)

Salted sardines and anchovies

Salt preserved sardines and anchovies prepared for meze

Salted sardines and anchovies

We are grateful to our parents for so many things.  They supported us, financially, emotionally and nutritionally, throughout all of our schooling.  They showered us with love, attention and encouragement every day, and they balanced their praise with enough well-deserved disapproval to keep us humble and in check.  This of course does not mean that we are perfect, but as parents, they kind of are.

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Salted sardines and anchovies
An important value that our parents instilled in us was the idea that we must always do well for others.  Whether it was giving up our seat on the bus, or making sure that we shared our lunch with a schoolmate who may have forgotten their’s, or saying thank you to friend’s parents for having us in their home, kindness, respect and compassion were expected.  And they certainly modeled what they preached, with the most vivid and frequent examples of this being when our parents invited people into our home.
Greeks have a word for the type of caring which extends friendship and hospitality to others, even strangers.  They refer to philoxenia, which is so much more than merely being hospitable.  It is a word which embodies the idea that there should be a genuine and profound extension of all that one can offer towards another.  Philoxenia knows no bounds, and is enacted freely, and with reverence.  It is partially why Greeks are known to be generous, compassionate and wonderful hosts.
sardines edited-1
As children, we didn’t analyse our parents’ way of welcoming visitors; this was just the way things were.  No matter the circumstance, whether a planned dinner party or a spontaneous pop-in, our parents met our guests smiling, honored for the company, and prepared.  Always prepared!  Like a well-rehearsed orchestra, our visitors would be seated at the kitchen table, the ouzo or coffee would be flowing as freely as the conversation, and within a very short while the table was set with an array of mezes.  A regular feature was an oval shaped glass bowl filled with sardeles, salted sardines and often anchovies, marinating in olive oil.  As kids, most of us turned our noses at this particular offering, but the adults adored them.  They would each have a few, usually with a piece of bread to help soak up the flavoured oil, and be very, very happy.

Salted sardines and anchovies
soaking first in red wine vinegar

These days our parents rarely have sardeles in their home. Attention to their blood pressure means that heavily salted foods are a rare luxury.  What a treat it was to watch them enjoy the sardeles on the day that we surprised them with a batch, asking that they show us how they used to prepare them.
Salted sardines and anchovies
Salted sardines and anchovies
Salted sardines and anchovies
Helpful hints
We purchased the salt preserved sardines and anchovies from our local Greek market’s deli counter.  We imagine that they are pretty readily available in other ethnic stores as well (we hope).  For this meze you really do need the salted fish; canned or tinned sardines really won’t be the same.
Salted sardines and anchovies
The fish are eaten entirely, bones and all.  The bones are soft, a good source of calcium, but should still be eaten with caution.  Chew well and don’t serve to small children (they likely won’t want these anyways).  If you prefer to pull out some of the bones you can of course do that as well.
Looking for more fish-y and seafood recipes, try these:
Mussels with red sauce
Fried calamari
Fried fish
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Salted sardines and anchovies

Salted sardines and anchovies

Salted sardines and anchovies (Σαρδέλες)

An easy way to prepare and serve salted sardines and anchovies
5 from 4 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Light meal, meze, Side Dish
Cuisine: Greek
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 4 people
Author: Mia Kouppa


  • 5 sardines, preserved in salt
  • 5 anchovies, preserved in salt
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar approximately
  • 1/4 cup olive oil approximately


  • To prepare the sardines, use a butter knife to carefully scrape off the salt, and the skin of the sardines. Remove any tough parts of the fish. You don't need to remove the bones; these are relatively soft and small and can be eaten. Watch video here. You also don't need to remove all of the skin as some of it will also come of when you are rinsing the sardines.
  • Prepare the anchovies in the same way that you do the sardines, but be even more careful. These smaller fish are more delicate and scraping too roughly will break them apart.
  • Once you have cleaned your sardines and anchovies, rinse them under cold running water, one by one. Use your fingers to gently clean them, wash away any remaining salt and rub off any remaining skin. You can certainly leave some skin on .
  • Place your sardines and anchovies together in a shallow dish (or keep them separate if desired) and pour the red wine vinegar over the fish to almost entirely cover. You may need a bit more than the listed amount to do so.
  • Allow your fish to soak in the red wine vinegar for 5 - 10 minutes. Then, pour off the vinegar and cover with olive oil.
  • Your sardines and anchovies are now ready to serve.
  • Enjoy!


Although the bones are entirely edible, you still want to be a little careful because they can be sharp.  We would not advise feeding these to very young children.
Once prepared and covered with olive oil, the sardines and anchovies will keep for several weeks in the refrigerator.
To serve, encourage people to take some of the olive oil onto their dish, along with the fish.  This is delicious for bread dipping!

Thanks for sharing!


  1. Sardines and anchovies are two great favourites of mine so this looks like an absolute winner for me. Strangely, I cannot remember ever being served this in all my trips to Kypros and Hellas but maybe that is just my old memory playing me false.

    1. miakouppa says:

      Oh we hope that you do try this preparation for them Fergy. So good!! A delectable treat that we always had on hand growing up.

  2. Jennifer Steiner says:

    Yia Sou!
    A dear friend of mine is searching for sardines packed in salt to give to his uncle who is craving them. I live in Montreal and am more than willing to go anywhere in the area to buy a case for him. I would be very grateful if you could let me know where you buy them.
    Thank you so much and keep up the great work!

    1. miakouppa says:

      Hi Jennifer! Thanks so much for reaching out. That is very kind of you to try to help your friend…and his uncle. We used to buy our salted sardines at Mourelatos, which is unfortunately no longer open. You should be able to find them either at PA or at Adonis; there are several locations of each around the city. Intermarche may have them too. Hope that helps! Let us know if you still have trouble finding them. xoxo Helen & Billie

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