Deep Fried Anchovies
Boquerones are European anchovies which can be deep-fried, marinated in vinegar or salted then preserved in oil. The city of Málaga is famous for its fried fish dishes which are known as ‘pescaito’ in the local dialect. The most popular of these dishes is Boquerones Fritos which is made by lightly covering the anchovies in flour then deep frying them. The fish is often eaten whole without removing the head or spine although some places will gut and clean them first. Whilst this dish is served in tapas bars all over Spain it is synonymous with Málaga where ‘boquerones’ has become the affectionate nickname of people from the city.
The boquerones which are landed at Málaga’s fishing port are typically caught in the Alborán Sea which lies in the Mediterranean between this coastline of Andalucía and North Africa. If you live outside of Spain you might find it difficult to get hold of these small fish in which case you might try frozen whitebait which is available in many major supermarket chains.
Serves 4 – 6 as a large tapa
- 250g of whitebait
- 6 heaped tablespoons of plain flour
- sunflower oil for deep frying
- 2 lemons cut into wedges
- salt and pepper
The first thing you will have to do is remove the heads and guts from the fish. This is quite easy as they are so small to begin with.
Combine the flour, salt and pepper in a deep bowl. Don’t be tempted to leave the salt out as this is what brings out the flavour of the fish.
Pour the sunflower oil into your deep fat fryer or a deep saucepan on a medium heat until it is smoking hot. It is very important that the oil is very, very hot. Dip the whitebait in the bowl of seasoned flour making sure they are coated thoroughly.
Once the oil is hot drop a large handful of fish into it and fry for about 1 minute until it is golden brown. Remove the fish from the oil using a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. Fry the remaining fish in the same way but make sure the oil is still very hot. You may need to do this in small batches depending on the size of fryer you are using.
Be careful not to add too much of the fish to the fryer at one time as this will cause the oil to cool too much and the flour will absorb too much of the oil.
Serve with lemon wedges on the side.