You may be surprised at how simple it is to transform small and sustainable fish into homemade tapas. Smaller non-carnivorous fish are also a healthier and more sustainable Seafood Choice due to their lower position on the food-chain. Unlike their larger carnivorous cousins such as Salmon or Tuna, these smaller species have generally accumulated less toxins in their bodies and as such are healthier to consume.
In Spain, the most popular small-fish variety used for tapas are Boquerones, (or “white anchovies”) and can be purchased pre-cleaned and packaged at specialty shops, preparing them yourself, despite the mess, is always preferable.
Start by scoring some fresh local sardines, sprats, or other suitable small fish from your local fish monger. Next, rinse them well and start by making a slit along the underside of the belly. Discard the innards and remove the backbones by running your knife under it and sliding the knife from the tail-end upwards.
Remove the smaller bones and submerged them in a shallow bowl of white wine vinegar. Leave the fish submerved in vinegar overnight in your refrigerator. Marination will not only clean the flesh but soften any tiny bones you may have failed to remove. Changing the vinegar during the night also makes a nice touch, but is not absolutely necessary.
The following morning simply pour off the vinegar and immerse the fish in good quality olive oil. Add sliced garlic, a handful of minced parsley, and seal the oil-submerged fish in a glass container in your refrigerator. In this condition, the fish will keep for several days if necessary.
When you are ready to serve, top the tapas with a nice squeeze of fresh lemon juice, a pinch of (smoked) salt, and a final drizzle of fresh olive oil. Serve with hick wedges of rustic country bread with fresh butter, radishes, cherry tomatoes, cold roasted fingerling potatoes, roasted garlic cloves, bits of fresh sheep’s milk cheese, olives, and pickled onions.