Saturday, March 3, 2012

Boquerones Fritos – a taste of happily ever after !

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Every time I taste boquerones fritos it takes me back to a magical week spent with some writer friends in a remote Spanish village near Grenada about ten years ago. It was the sort of place where you could expect to be woken at dawn by the sound of cowbells and donkey carts rattling through streets too steep and narrow for cars.
Here I was first introduced to the notion of tapas: you order a drink and a little plate of something wonderful arrives with it. How civilised! In one cervecería, the patrón produced plates of fat green olives, black morcilla, rosy petals of jamón, and lots more, placing them on the zinc counter with generosity and regularity, there for everyone to share.
Hmmmm... potential
There was nearly an international incident however, when one of the girls mistakenly thought one of the locals was hogging a plate of fried anchovies. The aroma was sensational. I guess she couldn’t help herself. They were just too tempting. She reached over his shoulder (gasp!) and helped herself to a handful of golden fish... which just happened to be the man’s lunch. To this day, the incident is still a topic for discussion in the village. Once the unfortunate man had gotten over the shock and the fish thief had gotten over her mortification and apologised, they got chatting. She stole his fish; he stole her heart; it was a fair swap and they lived happily ever after. The End.
So, anyway, back to the fish...
Two or three boquerones fritos with a squeeze of lemon are the perfect accompaniment to a cold beer on a sunny evening. Any more than that, and for me, they begin to taste a little one dimensional. To keep the taste buds tantalised, make each mouthful a surprise. Here’s how.
Keep the taste buds tantalised by making each mouthful different
To serve 4 – 6 people as a canapé you will need...
Approximately 36 fresh anchovies (or about 300g), heads and insides removed
Filling 1
1 small clove of garlic, crushed and mixed with 1 teaspoon very finely chopped fresh parsley
Filling 2
1 – 2 slices of Serrano ham or prosciutto cut into narrow strips – about ½ cm wide
Filling 3
1 red chilli, very finely chopped
Coating
6 tablespoons plain flour
a pinch of fine table salt
2 large eggs, beaten
100g dried breadcrumbs
Olive oil for cooking
A little sea salt (Maldon) for sprinkling
Wedges of lemon to serve

Flour, egg, breadcrumbs... simple ingredients, magical food
1.                 Divide the anchovies into 3 equal portions. Fill the first portion with the garlic and parsley mixture, gently pressing the fish closed over the filling. Fill the second portion with ribbons of Serrano ham or prosciutto. Fill the third portion with the finely chopped chilli. Make sure to press each fish gently to close it over the filling. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour to allow the flavours to penetrate the flesh.
2.                 When you are ready to cook the fish, set up a ‘dipping station’: place the flour in a shallow bowl and add a pinch of salt; place the beaten egg in another shallow bowl beside it; place the breadcrumbs in yet another bowl (yes, there’s lots of washing up but it’s worth it). Dip the prepared anchovies into the flour, then into the egg, then finally into the breadcrumbs. (Tip: use one hand for this dipping process, as doubtless as soon as you are covered in eggy breadcrumbs, the phone/doorbell will ring.) Place the dipped anchovies on a plate ready to be fried.
3.                 Pour olive oil into a large frying pan to a depth of ½ cm and place over a medium heat. When the oil is good and hot, but not smoking, add the anchovies. They should sizzle when they hit the oil. You want a crisp coating so don’t overcrowd the pan. As soon as one side is golden brown, turn them to cook the other side. This takes about 90 seconds in total. When they are golden, lift them out of the oil with a slotted spoon and serve immediately as these do not live happily ever after, but go from sublime to so-so in about one minute flat. Serve with wedges of lemon and, if you have some homemade mayonnaise, so much the better.
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24 comments:

mike@the culinary lens said...

I am sorry to say I could not be eating these as a canape and would need to hog a whole plate to myself international incident or not. I just love fresh anchovies

gobakeyourself said...

What a wonderful seafood dish! My dad lives his fish, and he just saw this post, asking it for dinner - thanks :D

Cheers
Choc Chip Uru

Quay Po Cooks said...

The moment I saw the chili padi in the list of ingredients, I knew I have to try this recipe.

ping said...

What a lovely story! Such a fairy tale ending too! This looks great ... I wouldn't share!

WiseMóna said...

Yum! We make a dish here called 'Scapese' which the kids love. It is like your little gems only dumped into a huge bowl drizzled with a mint, vinegar garlicky dressing and served on a salad. I love tapas too and the love story is just a fabulous bonus Hester. Gorgeous day here in Galway...hope it is nice and Springy in the East too x

Jill Colonna said...

Ooh, Hester, you've just brought us a ray of hot sunshine with these. We adore anchovies and the one-minute eating rule is not a problem and it's certainly a happy-ever-after. Great post!

Mary said...

These sound absolutely delicious. Once I read through this post, I spent some time browsing through some you had written earlier. I'm so glad I did that. I really like the food and recipes you share with your readers and I'll definitely be back. I hope you have a great day. Blessings...Mary

Gourmantine said...

Really enjoyed reading your post and what a wonderful snack Hester! In fact, I have my husband peeking over and complaining how come I don't cook things like these... :)

Celia said...

I've been a remiss commenter, Hester - and I am soooo glad I came back just in time for this. I have been counting the days until Brooklyn summer food fair Smorgasburg reopens, and I can hit up the fried anchovy stand there. Now, though, no more waiting! Off to find some fish...

Deelicious Sweets said...

What a sweet story! Ah, love always wins! I'll bet these are absolutely delightful. I must say that I rather enjoy anchovies. I use them in many ingredients to liven things up.

Cucina49 said...

I also love tapas--Italian bars have the same concept too, and I could just eat tiny bites of good food for hours. Anchovies are one of my favorite ingredients--this dish looks amazing!

Healthyfoodietravels said...

Oooo, sounds fantastic! Never had them like this, but I’d be all up for it :)
..

firefoodie said...

Oh, wow. I'm out to get me some anchovies.. easier said than done around here :( I just love the whole tapas concept, great multiple fillings idea. A.

SugarNSpiceKitchen said...

These look so good.

Anna @ the shady pine said...

I haven't ordered these in the longest time! Neither have I cooked them so am marking your recipe for the next to e I am at the fish market to buy sardines.

wok with ray said...

I love the cute story behind this cute little fish. I have to try your recipe. Thank you for sharing the recipe and the lovely story. :)

Lilly said...

I don’t think I ever had fried anchovies before, but they sure look tasty. I remember my mom use to fry little smelt fishes from about 5-6 cm long. Since the were so tiny we could eat them whole. When they are back in season I need to fry one batch, just to see if they were still as good as I remember. Just to bad I can’t find fresh anchovies here…

Maureen said...

Awww lovely post and gorgeous photos as always.

The Harried Cook said...

What an adorable story! love how pretty and delicious this dish looks! I love the combination of flavors and I could eat a whole plateful of this! Thanks for this awesome recipe! Gorgeous photographs! :)

Little Housewife said...

The little fishes looks amazing, I think Im making a trip to the local fish shop tomorrow! Thanks for posting and glad to see you on facebook as well! Best wishes!

sugar n spice kitchen said...

These look very good!

Choc Chip Uru said...

These look gorgeous and crunchy – yummy and buzzed :D

Cheers
Choc Chip Uru

Tiffany said...

BEAUTIFUL! I want to make these for my boyfriend! He’d love the spice and the crunch! :D

Magic of Spice said...

What a lovely recipe and adorable story :)