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Anchovies in vinegar marinate (Scapece de licette)

  • 1 hour
  • Medium
  • Appetizers
Scapece (from the Arabic “iskebegh”) is a way to prepare, and even preserve, fried foods. This style of preparation of Arab origin generally consists in soaking the fried ingredient in vinegar, garlic and herbs. During the Middle Ages, it was a technique used throughout a large part of southern Italy and even became a favorite dish of Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick II

Ingredients: Per 4 servings

  • 1 lb anchovies, (small anchovies)
  • 3 ½ oz durum wheat flour
  • frying oil to taste
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 2 cups white wine vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 sprig mint
  • salt to taste
  • chili pepper to taste


Wash the baby anchovies gently in a colander, drain them and coat in flour. Put a pan onto the heat containing abundant oil, and as soon as it comes to the boil, fry the anchovies.

When they are golden, remove with a slotted spoon, salt, and arrange them in a glass or earthenware salad bowl, sprinkling each layer with sage leaves and chopped garlic. In a pan boil the vinegar with the water and a pinch of salt and pour the liquid while still hot, but not boiling, onto the anchovies.

They are superlative after some days. Young anchovies – to be eaten whole – are only available in the spring. They can be substituted by baby sardines and therefore “scapece” can be prepared all year round.

Food History

A recipe for anchovies prepare a scapece appears on p.90 of the 1778 book by Vincenzo Corrado, “Il cuoco galante” available in digital format in the Academia Barilla Gastronomic Library

Other recipes from Academia Barilla