In southern Spain, Málaga province to be exact, Sardines are your summer meal.
Locally know as ‘el Espeto’, these sardines are roasted on a stick on an old fishing boat. It may sound a bit silly, but they taste heavenly. This tradition has been in Málaga since Pheonician times, a good long time ago. The meat on these sardines is so moist and tender that you only have to grab it gently with your fingers and the flesh come off the bones. We suggest you get yourself an icy cold beer (or other cold refreshment) with your espetos at a chiringuito —That’s what they call restaurants on the beach. Summer heat, icy cold beer and delicious sardines. That’s what you call a holiday.
All you need to know about ‘el espeto’ and how to cook it
- Must be salted at least 30 minutes before cooking.
- Most commonly served in beachfront bars called chiringuitos. Other restaurants do serve them, catering to tourism, but if you want to taste and experience them like Spaniards do, go to a chiringuito (often only open seasonally in summer months).
- Preferably cooked over a wood/log fire, it nicely adds a smokey flavor.
- Use the freshed and best quality sardines (it goes without saying).
- When placing the skewers, you must carve proper spears and know exactly how to hammer them into the sand. Otherwise they will fall and you’re left with sandy sardines.
- The fire can’t be too strong or too weak for you don’t want to let the sardines go dry, you need them to just fall of the bones as you pick them with your fingers.
- Sardines are a great source of Omega 3 and are low in calories.
- Sardines contain very little mercury, that makes them ideal for pregnant women or children to eat and enjoy. And how about a sunny holiday to go with?
Locals do not eat sardines in every month that has the letter ‘r’ (which is September to April) because for them it is a summer dish that you eat on the beach whilst relaxing with your family…on the beach.
As you may have gathered, it’s all about the beach in summer months. Understandably of course, it’s hot and there is often no other (cheaper) way than enjoying the heat than with a big pool (the sea) at your feet.
Just the smell of the salty-smoky-ness, something that will stay on your finger tips and follow you around as you walk along the Paseo Marítimo, coastal promenade that runs through most of the Costa del Sol.
For those who are not familiar with the term ‘Costa del Sol’, which essentially translates to the ‘Coast of the sun’, is a long line of coastal towns and communities along the coastline of the Province of Málaga.
Before you start setting up your barbecue at home, why not leave it to the ones who know best? Maybe a holiday in Costa del Sol is what you need.
Fritura Malagueña is a place full of fried fish and sometimes seafood. “Fritura” is frying a technique which, when properly processed, gives a wonderful results in food – a crisp and golden outside with juicy and meaty seafood/fish in the inside. The ‘magic’ of this technique is how it virtually has no oil absorbed. Malaga is undoubtedly one of the most traditional places and where this characteristic dish is served/made, thanks to the coast’s wide variety of fresh fish and seafood.
Here’s a recipe for this fritura fish and seafood dish, for you to try at home.
Ingredients for a traditional Malagueñan Fritura (There are plenty of other fish and seafood Frituras)
- Anchovies (Boquerones in Spanish)
- Small red mullets (Salmonetes or Salmonetitos in Spanish)
- Baby squid (Calamaritos in Spanish)
Cut into rings, easiest to cook that way
- Olive oil (has to be extra olive oil)
- Wheat flour
- 4 medium to large garlic cloves
- salt to taste
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 1/2 table spoon of fresh lemon juice
- 1 cup extra virgin Spanish olive oil
1) Once you have washed and cleaned your fish (and squid, in rings) and coat them into your whet flour, separately.
2) Before you fry, it is important you drain your fish (and squid) from the flour, make sure it is a thin coat. To do this use a sieve after you have coated your fish in the flour, the excess flour will drain through the sieve. Your fish/seafood should then be left with a thing coat of flour. This is to make sure you do not burn them in when frying.
3) In very hot pan heat olive oil. Fry your fish separately and in small quantities/portions. Do not fill your pan with all your fish/seafood at once. Fry when you see they have turned golden in colour and are crispy on the outside.
4) Serve on a big platter with lemons wedges, all types of fish in one serving plate. Add some fried parsley in the middle (if you wish) to add some color and more taste. The fish are tasty on their own too though. Enjoy!
Generally from Andalusian seas
‘Langostinos de Sanlúcar’ and ‘gambas de Garrucha’ are two gems of the Andalusian seas. Food aficionados (also known as Gourmets nowadays) go crazy for these jumbo shrimps from Salúcar de Barrameda, a town on the Atlantic coast located in the province of Cádiz. The small white shrimp is from Garrucha, the opposite end of Andalusia, in Almería region. These shrimps are most tender when gently steamed or chargrilled for a few minutes. Their flavor is so pure, true flavors from the sea.
However, it is very common in Andalucia to eat ‘fritos’ – deep fried fish or seafood, served both as mains or tapas. Fish most suitable for deep frying are sardines, anchovies, shark or tuna, shrimp or crab. This kind of batter consists of a mixture of egg yolk, wheat flours, whisk egg white and salt. The smallest of fried fish are named ‘pescaitos’, anchovies are locally called ‘boquerones fritos’.
Very small fish are sometimes given a spicy flavor with a dash of beer poured over them just before cooking. If you don’t like fried fish but love anchovies, order ‘boquerones a la vinagre’, anchovies in garlic parsley olive oil – delicious! Wherever you go eat, tapas or mains, in a restaurant or a beach bar, it is typical to have cold beer to accompany your meal. If you’re a beer lover, here’s a sentence you’ll need (or probably already) know: “Una caña por favor!”
There is a lot of beaches in Málaga and surrounding towns. From the endless beaches, Málaga’s most known beach is probably La Malagueta.
Fuengirola, Benalmadena and Marbella are common tourist destinations known for their beaches full of ‘Chiringuitos’ that make delightful sardines, just to name a few. If you don’t get to visit these beaches — not to worry — they make sardines at almost every beach. There are plenty of beaches to enjoy with different types of chiringuitos (some more modern than others) to enjoy.
For some fancier lounge bars and beach parties, visit Marbella. Puerto Banús, in Marbella, is the world famous port with luxury shops, yachts and vibrant nightflife.
However, if you’re really into seeing a beautiful white beaches, consider travelling a bit further out of Málaga — go to Cádiz. Untouched stunning beaches, paradise for you surfers and water sports aficionados. Nevertheless, these are impressive beaches that cater fun for all families.
Málaga wine and tapas, key things to experience
Málaga, the capital of the Costa del Sol that has been pointed out that the capital of tourism, has gained recognition as one of most “chic” places to eat, drink and enjoy.
Not only does this historic town have beaches and chiringuitos but also boasts of quirky cafés, taverns and lovely boutique hotels and of course, finest of tapas bars. For local wines (which you must try when visiting Málaga) there are two places that stand out to us. An atmospheric wine (and tapas) bar where even celebrities like Antonio Banderas go to enjoy a glass of sweet sherry is a place called ‘El Pimpi’. Barrels and signed photographs is what you will find on their walls.
Another personal favorite of ours is ‘Casa del Guardia’, an old fashioned small tavern with not much more than barrels and serving tables, the oldest tavern in Málaga – renown for it’s varieties of sherry. If you like sweet and dry sherry order a ‘Pintao’ and you’ll get the best of both, two in one. As for tapas bars, there’s one in every corner, plenty to choose from — plenty of which serve some great tapas.