Let’s Talk About Tapas: Boquerones

Tapas: Boquerones in vinegar

Last month, I started a new feature called Let’s Talk About Tapas, when I gave you a general overview of what to expect if you want to eat tapas in Spain.

Each month I will be telling you about different tapas, and often I will include a recipe so you can make them at home for yourself.

So, what are tapas and how did they originate?

Well, it’s thought that originally in the wine-making regions of Andalucía, a cover in the form of a small plate or lid was placed over glasses of wine to keep fruit flies away.  Titbits of food were later placed on the lid to be eaten with the wine.  Remember too, that the word “tapar” in Spanish means “to cover”, which is where we get the word “tapas” from.

Let’s get started with one of my favourite tapas – Boquerones en vinagre (anchovies in vinegar).

Boquerones whole

You can buy boquerones from fish merchants or any supermarket with a fish counter such as Mercadona, where a kilo costs around €3.

They are not very difficult to prepare and are absolutely delicious!   When we first arrived to live in Spain and rented a house for the first twelve months in Frigiliana, my Spanish next door neighbour showed me how she prepared them.

First you need to head and gut the fish.  Do this by holding each fish using two hands – with the tail in one hand and the head in the other.  Squeeze behind the head and pull it off.  Split open the fish with your fingers and take out the guts, backbone and pull off tail.

Boquerones filleted

Rinse in cold water until the water runs clear and place the filleted fish white-side up into dish.

Boquerones soaked in white vinegar and sprinkled with salt

Sprinkle with salt and cover with white wine vinegar.  Depending on how many fish you have, you can arrange them into layers – making sure you perform this same task with each layer.  The top layer of fish needs to be covered with vinegar.

The boquerones will start to turn white almost immediately as they “cook” in the vinegar.

I usually cover the dish with clingfilm and pop it into the fridge overnight to marinade.

Chopped garlic and flat-leaf parsley

Boquerones in olive oil with garlic and parsley

Next morning, drain the salty vinegar away and cover the boquerones with extra-virgin olive oil, lots of chopped garlic and a little freshly chopped parsley – and by lunchtime they will be ready to eat with freshly baked bread.

Eat your boquerones with a glass of chilled white wine or manzanilla (dry fino sherry).

What are your favourite tapas?


Whilst you’re here, you might also enjoy:

Let’s talk about tapas, shall we?

Spanish Omelette: Tortilla Española

A Celebration of Fried Breadcrumbs



40 thoughts on “Let’s Talk About Tapas: Boquerones

  1. Pingback: Málaga’s Urban Street Art | East of Málaga

  2. These photos look good enough to eat 🙂 I love marinated fish of any kind, and these look lovely. I like the thought of D.I.Y. but would have to co-opt the G.O. as I am terribly squeamish.

  3. Squeeze the head!?!!??! Pull it off?!?!?! SPLIT OPEN AND TAKE OUT GUTS?!?!?!? Ok. This looks absolutely delicious, and I’m sure I would love it. My mouth is watering, but… I CANT DO THAT ! LOL.

  4. Damn. The only anchovies I can get here in my patch of Ireland are the tinned kind. Yep, I like them but I`m guessing your version of anchovy is a whole ton nicer.
    Your wonderful food photography is taking me right back to that tapas bar in Spain where I had my very first fix. Sigh.

    • I used to think I didn’t like anchovies either, Lynne – but the problem was, I had tried the salted, brown coloured ones …. yuk!

      These are an entirely different kettle of fish, so to speak! 😉

      I say – give them a try!

  5. I was very surprised at how tasty boquerones actually are after my mum convinced me to try them on her latest visit here. They’re lovely!

    My favorite tapa? Hmm….I’m a big fan of the bomba, although of course the tapas here are not nearly as nice as they are in the south of Spain.

  6. This tapa is my idea of bliss! I absolutely adore it and my mouth is watering just at the sight of this photo!!!! Luckily, in the UK, you can buy something reasonably similar in Tesco and Waitrose, so I’m still able to get my “fix” 🙂

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