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Pescaíto Frito

"Boquerones fritos", fried anchovies and calamares (calamari) © Michelle Chaplow
"Boquerones fritos", fried anchovies and calamares (calamari) © Michelle Chaplow

Pescaíto Frito - (Fried Fish)

This is really "pescadito frito", but with the coastal southern accent it ends up sounding like "pescaíto" and is now commonly referred to as such.

 

There isn´t really a proper recipe, you just need to take a trip over to the local produce and meat/fish market one morning. Mondays and the first day after any holiday are not especially good days to go, since the fish that is out then was not caught just the day before, but rather whatever was leftover from the last market day, or frozen goods. (Keep in mind, however, that deep sea fish will almost always be previously frozen since the boats cannot come back each day, and have to freeze it on board.) Look out for whatever you like best, or boquerones (fresh anchovies), calamaritos (baby calamari) or calamares(calamari), salmonetes (small red mullet), cazón (dogfish; first marinate in a spice mixture available in markets, usually to be mixed with a little white wine and olive oil), rosada or mero (grouper).

The way to prepare the fish would simply be to first put a skillet of olive oil on to heat, enough to be able to submerge or at least partially submerge whatever it is you will be frying. (The oil doesn´t have to be extra virgen for frying, there are less expensive pure olive oils that are more appropriate, but do make sure it is olive oil). The oil should get quite hot but not begin to smoke. While you are waiting for the oil to heat, lightly rinse the fish and pat it dry. Pour some flour onto a plate (be generous). Sprinkle the fish with salt, to taste. Just before frying, cover the fish with the flour and shake off any excess.

Fry each type of fish separately, but you can use the same oil, as long as it is allowed to get hot enough before you put in the next batch (though once used to fry fish, the oil will not be useable for anything else other than fish, or to be thrown away once cooled). Fry just until the fish appears cooked or becomes golden (you may want to try a piece to be sure it is just right), remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. The ideal way to eat this is as soon as it is done, while it is still hot. Having a nice salad ready to go with it makes a complete meal.

The above goes for fried fish, but often one wants to avoid the frying or simply feels like having fish prepared a different way. "A la plancha", or grilled, is also very popular. Again, go to the market, and look for the freshest you can find: calamar, atún (tuna), pez espada (swordfish) all come out nicely. Rinse and dry the fish, and then just put on a large skillet with a little bit of olive oil to heat. When hot, place the fish in the pan, salt to taste, and add a little minced garlic and parsley if desired. Cook on high just until done and serve immediately.

Delicious sardines from Andalucia.

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