Boquerones, often better known and referred to as Boquerones en Vinagre, is a very popular tapa and appetizer, typical of Spanish cuisine.
The main ingredient, much as the name suggests, is boquerones, which is fresh anchovies. The fillets of anchovies are marinated in a mixture of vinegar and olive oil, then seasoned with garlic and parsley, and then served in a manner of different ways.
They are incredibly common in tapas bars, and as an appetizer in restaurants all over the country.
Usually, they will be served on a small round plate, on top of slices of bread. They are often consumed with beer or a soft drink.
They are a healthy and delicious tapa dish, which is proof of the love of seafood that Spain has, and they are also incredibly easy to prepare and serve.
But…why is this dish so popular? Are there specific rules on how boquerones should be prepared? And what do they taste like?
If you’re curious about this Spanish dish and you want to learn more, stick around. We’ll tell you everything you need to know about boquerones en vinagre, and spoiler alert: yes, they are delicious!
Appearance And Taste Of Boquerones
Fresh anchovy fillets are originally brown in their color. But when prepared to make boquerones, they are cleaned, de-scaled, and then submerged in salt, water, and vinegar.
The vinegar causes them to turn white, so the end appearance of boquerones is thin white fillets, with some brown left on top, and seasoning all around.
As for the taste, boquerones are milder than anchovies, with a more delicate and curated flavor.
They are, of course, very salty, but they are also heavily flavored with vinegar, as well as garlic, and olive oil.
They are tender and juicy, and they pair extremely well with slices of bread, salad dishes, and potato chips.
How are boquerones prepared?
Okay, so how are boquerones prepared exactly? What is the process? Let’s go ahead and explain!
The fresh anchovies are sourced from the Atlantic ocean, then filleted by hand, and marinated in extra virgin olive oil, white vinegar, garlic, and parsley.
The vinegar seals in the freshness and turns them white, and the oil gives them a silky smooth flavor. This way, they end up being milder and more refined than normal anchovies!
To go into a bit more detail: the fish are first cleaned and filleted. They need to cut off the heads and tails, and then remove all of the innards along with the central bone.
Then, the fish fillets are all placed in a shallow dish, to be soaked in vinegar and water for quite a few hours. It is also common to add salt.
Some people will drain the fillets after a while, and re-fill the bowl with fresh vinegar. But most commonly, they are simply left in the refrigerator to soak for hours.
Once fully soaked, they are drained and rinsed with water. Then, the fillets are covered in olive oil, garlic, and parley.
This is left to marinate for a very long time, usually around two weeks or so! This way, the flavor has plenty of time to soak into the anchovies, so that they become delicious boquerones!
There are other methods of preparing them, especially within commercialized boquerones which are done in big bulks.
But the basics remain the same no matter the variation, cleaned and then soaked in vinegar, garlic, and parsley!
What is the difference between boquerones and anchovies?
Boquerones are made out of fresh anchovies, meaning boquerones are anchovies. So…what is the difference between a dish of boquerones, and a dish of normal anchovies?
Although they are the same fish, the preparation makes the end result differ. So anchovies are heavily salted and have a very strong and poignant taste.
Boquerones, on the other hand, are a lot milder, with a more delicate flavor, with vinegar, garlic, and parsley.
Also, boquerones are made to be as fresh as possible and are kept chilled ever since they are caught. Anchovies, on the other hand, are usually sold in cans.
Are boquerones healthy?
Since boquerones en vinagre are basically just anchovy fish, does this mean that the tapa dish is healthy?
The answer is yes! Boquerones are extremely healthy, and probably one of the healthiest tapa dishes you will find in Spain.
Anchovy fish contains vitamins and minerals, which contribute to your general health. They are an incredible source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are known to highly benefit the brain and the heart, and they also have a lot of selenium, which can help reduce the risk of cancer.
Oh, and as boquerones have way less salt than normal anchovies, they are even healthier!
Are there any health risks to consider with boquerones?
When it comes to eating fresh food such as fish, there are usually a few health risks that need to be considered, which is why a lot of care and thought needs to be put into the storage of the food, and the cooking method.
Boquerones are anchovies, and these can contain concentrated domoic acid, which can cause amnesic shellfish poisoning. They can also contain high levels of uric acid, which can cause gout.
This is why it is important to buy boquerones from reliable and safe sources so that you know that they have been caught, stored, and prepared, in the right conditions.
In Spain, the health laws actually require anchovies to be frozen, before they can be thawed and prepared as boquerones.
This is to avoid the presence of Anisakis larvae, which is a parasite that could potentially be found in the fish.
But don’t worry, as long as you’re eating boquerones from a reliable establishment, you should be completely fine, and can just focus on enjoying the deliciousness of them!
Boquerones, better known as boquerones en vinagre, are a popular Spanish dish most commonly consumed as a tapas dish.
They are essentially just fresh anchovies, which have been soaked and marinated in white vinegar, olive oil, salt, garlic, and parsley.
This makes them milder and more enjoyable than normal anchovies, and they are ideal when served on top of bread, or alongside potato chips or salad.
For another delicious Spanish food, check out Fabada Asturiana