Venetian Sweet and Sour Prawns

I’m back after more than a month of Social detox (except for the Instagram stories from the long trip to Norway, which I had to share!), and I confess that the longer the break, the harder it is to get back to creating things, whatever they are. It’s been a long, torrid, and particularly challenging summer for me, but certainly not without some intense and precious moments to cherish forever.

I return with one of my all-time favorite Venetian recipes: “Mazzancolle in Saor” (sweet and sour prawns) served in goblets, on soft and creamy, warm, white polenta. An unmistakable flavor, a cornerstone of Venetian cuisine and that of my home.

The recipe takes a while, but it is easy. It involves slow cooking the onions, which should then be deglazed with white wine vinegar and seasoned with a little salt and sugar. The prawns are quickly fried and then put in a container well covered by the onions. Pine nuts and soaked raisins are added, and the dish is left to marinate in this way for at least 24 hours before eating it.
Then, very simply, you serve the Mazzancolle in Saor over some white, creamy polenta, which you will cook according to times and methods appropriate to the quality chosen, taking care, however, to keep it very soft. Scroll below for the detailed recipe, or watch this video to see how to make it!

Venetian sweet and sour prawns

Cucina Venetian cuisine
Porzioni 4 persons


  • 450 g shelled and cleaned prawns
  • 1/2 kg white onions
  • 1/2 glass of white wine vinegar
  • 50 g raisins
  • 30 g pine nuts
  • 1/2 glass of water
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup of flour (to coat the prawns)
  • oil for frying

For the polenta:

  • 300 g white corn flour
  • 1,5 l water
  • 1 teaspoon of coarse salt


  • Soak the raisins in some warm water.
  • In a frying pan heat the oil for frying and while it is heating, flour the prawns.
  • Fry the prawns on both sides quickly (otherwise they get hard!), then remove them from the oil and lay them on a plate covered with absorbent kitchen paper. Season with salt and set aside.
  • Being careful, strain the frying oil to remove any impurities then pour again a generous amount of it into the same pan.
  • Peel and wash the onions and slice them thinly, place them in the pan, and cook over low heat for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 1/2 glass of water halfway through cooking so they do not dry out too much. The onions should wilt gently without ever browning. Add sugar and salt to taste.
  • Deglaze the onions with vinegar, raise the flame and let the liquid evaporate for a few minutes. Drain the raisins and add them to the onion along with a sprinkling of black pepper.
  • Inside a proper container arrange the dish by alternating layers of prawns, onions, and pine nuts until you use up all the ingredients. The last layer should always be onions, in order to cover well the prawns. Saor prepared in this way will keep in the refrigerator for several days. Left the dish to marinate this way for at least 24 hours before eating.
  • To prepare polenta, heat water in a saucepan, add salt, and when the water starts to boil slightly, pour in the polenta flour a little at a time, stirring constantly with a whisk. Cook the polenta, according to times and methods appropriate to the quality chosen, taking care to keep it very soft.
  • Pour the polenta into the goblets, let it chill for a few minutes, and then lay the Mazzancolle in Saor on top.

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