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Cisam - a traditional fish dish from Lake Garda

Cisam is a traditional fish dish of the area around Nago-Torbole and Riva, Lake Garda.

The small freshwater fish Alborelle, or Aole for short, are typically prepared according to an ancient tradition of brining, to ensure their longevity. Also, they taste better after a week in the brine!


  • 1 kg Aole - or larger fish such as Renke, Tench and Trout
  • 1 kg white onions, chopped
  • Garlic, chopped
  • Flour
  • Olive oil
  • 1 large glass of vinegar
  • Bay leaves
  • Rosemary
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Gut and scale the fish then fillet. Cover in flour and fry in extra virgin olive oil. Make sure you add the oil to an already heated pan and heat carefully. For electric ovens, it’s better to keep them at a medium level than to overheat at too high a temperature. After frying, salt the fish and simmer for a further 20 minutes with the chopped onions, garlic and the other spices. Season with salt, pepper and vinegar.

Now the fish and onion can be placed in jars and filled with the brine and a dash of olive oil. Close the jars and let them cool upside down then store in the refrigerator. The cisam can be enjoyed after a week as an antipasto, appetiser or main course. Serve as an antipasto in combination with white bread or with the classic Italian bruschetta: Bake the white bread in the oven until golden yellow, drizzle with olive oil and top with a mixture of fresh tomato pieces, pressed garlic, basil, olive oil and vinegar.

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