Boquerones are fresh, small anchovies. Supplemented by fresh, crisp Spanish bread, refreshing Asturian cider, or a glass of ruby-red wine, they are one of my favorite Spanish dishes. Moreover – as with many popular Spanish dishes, which include the famous Mediterranean Diet – they are incredibly healthy.
Similar to its friend, the sardine, the anchovy is essentially an oily fish, packed with minerals and proteins, protecting against chronic heart disease and “good” for cholesterol. What’s more, in many areas of Spain -particularly the Mediterranean coast – fresh anchovies are incredibly cheap.
Methods for cooking Boquerones tend to vary somewhat from region to region. However, the fundamental principles are always the same. You first have to fillet and clean the fish, which is simple enough but rather tiresome until you get the hang of it.
Next, you properly soak the fillets, either in wine vinegar or a mixture of half water and half vinegar. The vinegar will bleach and clean the fish and also soften any lingering little bones. Some people spray the fish with salt; others (including me) feel that the fish is already salty enough.
The fish has to be left for around 4-10 hours soaking in the vinegar. Again, this varies, with some Spaniards leaving them overnight (8 hours) in the fridge and others just waiting a couple of hours. Some families also change the vinegar/water-and-vinegar mix once during this process, while others don’t bother.
Once you have soaked and thrown away the vinegar, the bleached fillets are coated with an extra virgin olive oil, which will properly preserve them. You can add as little, or as much, sliced garlic as you wish, plus my favorite freshly chopped parsley.
Authentic Boquerones Recipe
- 1 pound fresh anchovies.
- Extra Virgin olive oil.
- One cup of White wine vinegar.
- 1/2 tsp. Parsley.
- 1 Garlic (chopped)
- Salt (optional).
- Tail and top anchovies are the basic steps. Slit along the underside and remove innards.
- Next, properly open out fish.
- Remove the hard central bone by carefully lifting from tail end upwards. Rinse throughout.
- Place anchovy fillet layers in a shallow dish. Sprinkle with salt (optional) and pour 1/2 cup of vinegar. Repeat with another layer, in a different direction.
- Leave to soak in vinegar for eight hours for better soaking. (overnight soaking is the best)
- After soaking overnight, pour off the vinegar and very gently rinse fillets.
- Next, cover the fillets in extra virgin olive oil.
- Add chopped parsley and slices of garlic.
It is so refreshing to find something in life that is a delight to the senses, healthy, affordable, and does nobody any harm (no offense to Veganism or a myriad of fish who sacrifice themselves everyday for (wo)mankind to gorge on).