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Wandering through Iberian lands

Boquerones, i.e. European anchovy, one of the delicacies of southern Spanish (and not only!) cuisine and for many … a substitute of Polish herring!

10/12/2020 5:39 PM

Boquerones may be a name that doesn’t tell you much, but I can bet that if I say anchovies it will change things, won’t it? Today we will tell you about European anchovy, which in Spain is known as boquerones.

Recently, we’ve published an article about food products that are easily available in Poland, and sometimes even unavailable in Spain (and as it turned out, also in Portugal). We listed herring there, which are not popular in Spain at all, and we have heard from some fishermen that they are even treated like… rubbish. Personally, I always said that when it comes to sweets, I like herring the most and I admit that I sometimes miss those ready-made rolls, finger foods, fillets in tomato or mustard sauce … But of course I have so many different delicacies here that I can’t complain!

Boquerones, or European anchovies, grow up to 20 cm in length and occur mainly in the Mediterranean Sea, but also in the Atlantic Ocean along the African and European coasts (from South Africa to Norway!). They are caught, of course, in Spain, but also in Morocco, France, Italy and Turkey, and in many other countries. In Spain, boquerones are served whole coated in flour and then fried in oil (also eaten whole – boquerones fritos) or in olive oil with garlic, parsley, previously preserved in salt and vinegar (boquerones en vinagre).

When writing about boquerones, I must mention a certain threat anisakis, i.e. small parasites that like to feed on larger friends and can parasitize their stomachs. If we happen to eat fish with larval anisakis inside, it can be dangerous for us. Neither vinegar nor olive oil will kill them, so to be sure you should freeze the boquerones first, at a temperature of -20 ° C or lower, and keep them frozen for a minimum of 24 hours (better for a few days), and then, after defrosting, serve to guests (if you choose option en vinagre). If you decide to have fritos (fried) you do not have to subject them to the processing mentioned above. I have never met anyone who got infected with anisakis, and when I ask local fishermen I know, they tap their foreheads, but I just wish to be clear that such a threat exists.

The recipe that I am going to present to you today is a very simple, classic way to prepare boquerones. We’ve got it from our spanish friend who sometimes treats us with such delicacies.


Since I consider myself a real housewife, I never know how much of the things I use. First, we need to mix the vinegar and salt. We need just enough vinegar to cover the boquerones, which, of course, should be filleted beforehand. Pour this mixture over the raw boquerones fillets so that they are well covered. The longer they stay, the stronger they will taste, but we know that they are ready when they turn white and then we can get them out of the “marinade”. Put them into the target dish, add olive oil, squeezed through a press or finely chopped garlic and finely chopped parsley. Everything according to your own taste, I like more garlic and less parsley, everyone has to find their own proportions. Enjoy your meal!

One small explanation at the end – in the pictures you can see a rice waffle that does not fit there at all, boquerones en vinagre is best eaten with delicious, crispy bread, so rice waffle wasn’t my first choice but, well, I didn’t have bread so… Second thing – boquerones en vinagre is a very popular tapa  (a Spanish snack), don’t forget to order it when you come to this beautiful country someday!