You may be surprised at how simple it is to transform small* sustainable fish into homemade tapas. In Spain, the most popular variety typically tapped for tapas is Boquerones, (also known as “white anchovies”). While this variety can sometimes be purchased pre-cleaned and packaged at specialty shops, preparing them yourself, despite the slight mess, is always preferable.
So go out and find some fresh local sardines, sprats, or other suitable small fish from your local fish monger. Rinse them well and start by making a slit along the underside of the belly, discarding the innards, Next, remove the backbones by running your knife under them and lifting them out from the tail-end upwards.
Next, remove the bones and rinse the little fish and leave them overnight submerged in a shallow bowl of white wine vinegar in your refrigerator. This will clean the flesh and soften any tiny bones you may have failed to remove. Changing the vinegar during the night is helpful, but not absolutely necessary.
The following morning simply pour off the vinegar and immerse the fish in good quality olive oil, add sliced garlic and minced parsley and seal them in a container in your refrigerator. The fish can be kept in the refrigerator for several days if necessary. When you are ready to serve, plate them with a nice squeeze of fresh lemon juice, a pinch of (smoked) salt, and a final drizzle of olive oil. Serve beside thick wedges of rustic bread, (or garlic toast) and a consortium of accompaniments such as cherry tomatoes, roasted fingerling potatoes, fresh sheep’s milk cheese, radishes, olives and pickled onions.
*The reason smaller non-carnivorous fish are a healthier and more sustainable seafood choice is their lower position on the food-chain. As a result, these species have generally accumulated less toxins in their bodies than the larger carnivorous fish such as Salmon or Tuna.