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But now for your article about that healthy, tasty tapas dish ...


article - what's that tapa dish of little fish?...

Boquerones are small, fresh anchovies and - whether you're aware of it or not - you're sure to have come across them during your travels in Spain.

Did you ever experiment with "tapas" whilst out here?

If this is the case, it's more than likely you considered the small, tasty filleted fish - preserved in olive oil, sliced garlic and chopped parsley - but, not knowing what they were, decided against them.

This is a shame, for they're a delectable dish and extremely popular throughout Spain - usually known as "boquerones" but in some areas called "anchoas".

Accompanied by crusty Spanish bread, a glass of ruby-red wine or refreshing Asturian cider, they're a delight to eat.

Moreover - as with many traditional Spanish dishes making up the renowned Mediterranean Diet - boquerones extremely healthy.

Like its friend the sardine, the anchovy is an oily fish, packed full of proteins and minerals, protecting against heart disease, and "good" for cholesterol.

What s more, in many areas of Spain - in particular the Mediterranean coast - fresh anchovies are extremely cheap.

On first coming to Spain, I happily enjoyed many tapas of boquerones, completely unaware of one fact ... all those little anchovies I had eaten were not cooked! Horror of horrors ... I'd been eating raw fish!

Fortunately, my neighbor Carmen went into immediate action and saved the day!

She frog-marched me to the local fishmongers, bought a kilo of the little fish, took me home and showed me "her way" of preparing them.

They were so delicious that I quickly recovered my passion for boquerones and have been enjoying them ever since.

Methods for preparing them tend to vary slightly from family to family. However, the basic principles are always the same.

First, you clean and fillet the fish - which is simple enough, but rather tedious until you get the hang of it.

Next, you soak the fillets, either in white wine vinegar or a mixture of half vinegar and half water.

The vinegar will clean and bleach the fish and also soften any remaining little bones. Some people sprinkle the fish with salt; others (myself included) feel that the fish is salty enough already.

The fish has to be left for a good few hours soaking in the vinegar. Again, this tends to vary, with some Spaniards leaving them overnight in the fridge and others just waiting a couple of hours. Also, some families change the vinegar/water-and-vinegar mixture once during this process, whilst others don t bother.

Once you've thrown away the vinegar, the bleached fillets are covered with a good quality extra virgin olive oil, which will preserve them.

Add as much - or as little - sliced garlic as you wish, plus freshly chopped parsley.

So ... here you have the actual recipe ...

Ingredients:

  • 1 kilo fresh anchovies
  • White wine vinegar
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Garlic
  • Parsley
  • Salt (optional)

Method

  • Top and tail anchovies.
  • Slit along underside and discard innards.
  • Open out fish.
  • Remove central bone by lifting from tail end upwards.
  • Rinse well.
  • Place a layer of anchovy fillets in a shallow dish.
  • Sprinkle with salt (optional) and cover with vinegar.
  • Repeat with another layer, changing direction.
  • Leave to soak in vinegar for a few hours or overnight.
  • Pour off vinegar.
  • Very gently rinse fillets.
  • Cover fillets with extra virgin olive oil.
  • Add slices of garlic and chopped parsley.

It is so pleasant to find something in life that is a delight to the senses, affordable, healthy and does nobody any harm (apologies to any vegetarians out there and, also, the little anchovies ...).

So ... do make the most of boquerones whilst in Spain, and enjoy!




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by Linda Plummer of Top Tour of Spain




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