top of page
  • Jeff Koehler

Sardines in Escabeche

An easy, light recipe for your next dinner party, from “The North African Cook Book” by Jeff Koehler.

Skabitch is an herby, oil-and-vinegar marinade found in various places around the Mediterranean, including Algeria.

Region: Algeria

Preparation Time: 15 minutes, plus cooling and 1 day marinating

Cooking Time: 20 minutes

Serves 4


16 fresh sardines (about 500g total)

plain flour, for dusting

360ml (1½ cups) olive oil, plus extra if needed

6 cloves of garlic, lightly crushed in the skin

1 small red onion, cut crosswise into thin slices

2 bay leaves

1 heaped tablespoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

1 teaspoon black peppercorns

120ml (½ cup) white vinegar



Scale, clean and remove the heads and entrails of the sardines. Rinse under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels. Season with salt and lightly flour.

Heat 60ml (¼ cup) of the oil in a medium, deep frying pan or sauté pan over a medium heat.

Working in batches, fry the sardines until the skin is golden, about 2 minutes. Without breaking the skin, turn them over with a wide spatula and cook on the other side until golden, 1–2 minutes.

Transfer to a medium rectangular earthenware, ceramic or glass dish, arranging the sardines side by side in the dish, alternating head-tail direction so that they fit snugly together.

Put the remaining 300ml (1¼ cups) of the oil, the garlic, onion, bay leaves, parsley and peppercorns into a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Cook until the onion and garlic have softened but not turned brown, about 5 minutes.

Remove from the heat, leave to cool for a few minutes, then carefully stir in the vinegar and 60ml (¼ cup) water. Return the saucepan to the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

Stir the marinade and pour over the sardines. If the marinade does not cover the fish, top up with more olive oil. Leave to cool to room temperature. Cover with cling film and refrigerate for at least 1 day to fully absorb the flavours.

Remove the sardines from the refrigerator at least 1 hour before serving. Serve at room temperature with some of the marinade drizzled over the top of the sardines.

Store in the refrigerator and use within 4 days.

This is an edited extract from “The North African Cook Book” by Jeff Koehler (Phaidon), $74.95.

This is an extract from an article that appears in print in our eighth edition, Page 112 of Winning Magazine. Subscribe to Winning Magazine today.


Recent Features


bottom of page