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Calabrian sardine: what it is and how to prepare the typical spicy sauce

Calabrian pilchard

Typical Calabrian product and in particular from the province of Crotone and the Upper and Lower Ionian Cosentino area: here's how to prepare Calabrian sardella.

Calabrian sardine is a typical product of Calabria: a spicy fish-based sauce known as poor man's caviar , rosamarina or Calabrian caviar. This spicy sauce can be considered as the seafood variant of 'nduja, another typical Calabrian product. The Calabrian spicy sauce prepared following this recipe can be consumed within a few days; for longer storage I recommend boiling the glass jar wrapped in a cloth for ten minutes in a pan of water.

Calabrian pilchard
Calabrian pilchard

Preparation of Calabrian sardella

  1. To prepare the Calabrian pilchard, start by washing the fish well under cold running water then drain it in a colander.
  2. Separately, mix the two variants of chilli with the chopped fennel then place some on the bottom of a bowl with a little salt.
  3. Cover with a layer of fish, then make another layer of salt and chilli.
  4. Continue in this way until you run out of ingredients.
  5. Cover with a weight and leave to macerate for two days.
  6. After the resting time, mix all the ingredients well.
  7. Transfer the mixture thus obtained into a clean glass jar and cover with olive oil.

Alternatively, I recommend you try the Calabrian style lampascioni in oil recipe.


This spicy sauce, fish pilchard, can be kept for a few days in the refrigerator, inside a special container with a lid. We do not recommend freezing in the freezer.

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