Anchovies have a bad reputation sometimes, which isn't quite fair! Here in Spain, these delicious and healthy little fish are prepared in a large variety of ways: salt cured, marinated or pickled and even battered and fried. There is a preparation for everyone, and quality also varies greatly (for the salt-cured anchovies you can find a tin that costs about $1.00 and another that costs $30.00-- you better bet there is a big difference in taste between the two!).
One of our favorite Spanish anchovy recipes is this one, which is for fresh anchovies marinated in vinegar, olive oil, and minced garlic. In Spain, they are called boquerones en vinagre, and they are a traditional and very popular tapa all throughout the country. Every family has at least one cook who prepares these tasty pickled anchovies, often topping them with heaps of fresh parsley. It is an easy recipe, and the hardest part is waiting for the fish to marinate! Since this is a raw fish recipe, we strongly recommend deep freezing the anchovies after cleaning to prevent any possibility of illness.
These pickled anchovies are typically eaten as a snack and served with an alcoholic drink-- sometimes as the free tapa that comes with the drink, especially in Madrid. They might be served over potato chips, or with olives. One of the most typical Spanish beverages they are served with is vermouth, Spanish fortified and aromatized wine.
- 2 pounds fresh anchovies
- 1-2 cups (250-500 milliliter) white wine vinegar
- 4-5 cloves of garlic
- 1 cup (250 milliliter) extra virgin olive oil
- 4 sprigs Italian parsley
- salt to taste
- Clean the anchovies. This is not difficult, but you'll get better at it with practice! First, you'll remove the heads from anchovies. Then, using your thumb, remove the innards and spine from the anchovies. Rinse them thoroughly under cold water.
- Lay the anchovies flat, covering the bottom of the baking dish.
- Place them in the freezer for 3 hours to completely freeze the fish. Freezing the anchovies to -20°C or -4°F can prevent illness from parasites found in raw fish. (Note: It is important to use a glass dish, not metal.)
- Remove the anchovies from the freezer.
- Cover them in vinegar until all anchovies are submerged in liquid.
- Finely chop the garlic and sprinkle over the anchovies, then pour the olive oil into the baking dish.
- Seal tightly with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator to marinate for 2-3 hours.
- Top with freshly cut parsley.
- Serve with slices of rustic bread and Spanish olives.