Saturday, February 21, 2009

Boquerones en Vinagre

There are some things in life that I just can't resist. One of these is Boquerones en Vinagre. Those glistening silvery jewels draped over a plate, drizzled with peppery olive oil and sprinkled with finely chopped fresh garlic letting the vinegar marinade come through........heaven. Pre lunch is when I crave them,accompanied by a chilly glass of Manzanilla. I like them wrapped around picos - tiny breadsticks but my Spanish friends say they should be on eaten on top of the bread served alongside the picos.

One day last week, whilst in one of my favourite Pescaderias in town, pondering my purchase of the day, Oliva, directing me away from my favoured pescados, enthused that the boquerones were 'Muy Bueno'.They did look fab. All plump and healthy - albeit dead. I shrugged my shoulders,asking what I would do with them. She suggested a la plancha or frito.

Boquerones fritos are a legend in their own right and one of the few things we don't do at Annie B's Spanish Kitchen is deepfry fish. I hate the smell for one thing and you can eat pescado frito in town way ahead of anything I'd produce for sure. A la plancha - for me,some fish yes but oily fish no - particularly not small oily fish.

Then she suggested en vinagre - woo hoo!! How? Simple replied Oliva demonstrating on her selected victim. Rip the head off, run your finger along the backbone seperating flesh from bone, snap that off at the tail, open it out, wash and lay flat in a dish with rim. After you've treated all your anchovies like this, sprinkle with sea salt and cover completely with white vinegar. You then leave this in the fridge for 4 hours or more but the flesh must have turned white before the next stage. Remove the fillets, rinse and pat dry. Now cover lightly with Olive Oil and chopped garlic. This has to be the freshest garlic you can lay your hands on. A grind of black pepper. And that's it.

Assuming that you start this process the morning of anchovy purchase,they will be ready for consumption the following day, just intime for that Manzanilla. Trust me - there are few things better than this.


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