Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Boquerones en vinagre

Words aren't enough to describe the envy I feel as I read about the summer dream that other bloggers seem to be living at their summer houses right about now. They collect the catch of the day from the nets at the end of their piers and serve it with something they rustle up form the home-grown veggies and the produce from their own herb garden.  Me and my VISA have to settle for my supermarket's harvest.

But since envy isn't a very character-building, so it's best to just channel that energy for something else. Such as cleaning fish! After the initial hurdles I have set my heart on becoming an Olympic level star at that.  Today I practised with a whole new size class - European cisco.  Much like the fish itself, cleaning them was no biggie: You cut the head off, slice the stomach open run your finger through the fish plucking out the intestines, spread the fish open and remove the spine and the bones by simply lifting it.

Boquerones, little fish marinated in vinegar and stored in oil are one of The Gentleman's favourite tapas. They are made with fresh anchovies, but since those are not too readily available you can use other small fish the way I had to.  Because of a parasite risk, since 2006 it's been mandatory to freeze the fish for minimum of 24 hours prior to marinating it - a guideline I follow myself too. Better safe than sorry...

Because of the different phases, this does take quite a bit of time, but luckily no real effort.

As tapa this is enough for 4-6 people.

500 g fresh anchovies (or European cisco)

2 dl white wine vinegar
0,5 dl water
1 tbsp salt

1 lemon zest
3 dl good olive oil
2 cloves of garlic

Clean the fish as instructed above. Freeze for minimum of 24 hours and thaw.

Pat dry and place in a dish in layers sprinkling salt on top of each layer. The idea is that the fish won't absorb any more salt than is needed. Top with mixture of water and vinegar and let marinate for 10 hours.  Check occasionally during the last two hours - if the fish seems to be getting overcooked (= hard), it's time to move onto the next phase.

Drain in a colander for half an hour OR rinse quickly. Peel the lemon zest into strips and finely slice the garlic. Place in another container, layering with lemon peel, garlic cloves, parsley and olive oil. Let rest in the fridge for at least 24 hours before serving. Make sure the fish is completely covered in oil as this is what preserves them.


  1. This looks great. I have a question though. I bought dressed smelts from the supermarket. They said they were originally frozen, therefore I didn't feel the need to refreeze them before putting them in the freezer. My fear is the ansiakasis. Right now, they are still in the fridge in the vinegar mixture. Is it safe to move on to the next steps?

    1. Hi there - in case they have been frozen, there's no need to fear :-) Anyway, raw fish that has been frozen should never be allowed to thaw and then be refrozen (hope I understood what you meant?). So, move away! Let me know how they turned out :-)