NOW, THIS IS A TRUE, HISTORIC COMEBACK. FROM INITIAL REJECTION AT THE MAIN TABLES TO SUCCESS ON THE ALTARS OF GASTRONOMY. APART FROM ITS DIETARY QUALITIES, BLUE FISH HAS WON OUR DEVOTION THANKS TO A POWERFUL FLAVOUR PRESENT IN MANY AND VARIED RECIPES.
Actually, it is neither a particular fish nor are we only referring to the nice light colour covering it. The secret of the matter lies in the amount of fat present in the muscles of these species, between 5 and 11%. Thus, this jubilant family includes such respectable members as tuna, swordfish, sardines, anchovies or horse mackerel.
Before letting one’s jaw drop upon reading that percentage of muscle fat, much higher than that of white fish, one should take a deep breath and know that they are rich in unsaturated fats. The Omega 3 it contains reduces the levels of cholesterol and triglycerides, thus keeping the possibility of a cardiovascular accident further away. How not to love them! It is a combo that brings together a satisfied palate and a protected heart. What are the most generous fish in Omega 3? Apart from those mentioned above, there is salmon, mackerel, herring, tuna or even cod. Codliver, however unappetising a proposal it may seem, is an excellent natural remedy for high cholesterol.
Each fish has its own season, when it contains more cardio-healthy fat and its consumption is more advisable. Regarding sardine, for example, an old popular adage recommends they be consumed between May and August when they are big and beautiful. We may turn to these fish for their virtues… and stay with them for their taste. Their higher percentage of fat makes them definitely tastier and more suitable for cooking without their being dried out. Therefore, and for their good price, they make an excellent gift for any table. The dishes of a country that has experienced years of scarcity and empty bellies set much store by their inexpensive assets. They have never been out of our sight.
Who can say no to good grilled sardines? Or to pescaíto frito – deep fried fish? And what about anchovies, anchovy in vine-gar and the pickles that adorn the bars of Spain? Whether fresh or canned, they constitute a unique product, never too valued, with a formidable industry behind them that takes care to offer only the best. Avant-garde cuisine has modernized some traditional blue fish dishes and has incorporated some new ones to the amazement of those who once criticized this raw material for its low pedigree. Such is the case with the sardine, in addition to its everlasting formulas; it is a delicacy served on a pie or semi-raw and smoked.
EL PESCAÍTO DE PARADORES
Malaga, as if it were not a sufficiently blessed land, has a fishing ground that serves to supply the entire Costa del Sol with its famous pescaíto. This consists in horse mackerels, sardines, anchovies or red mullet with a flavour so intense that one should eat them seated. The conditions of the Alborán Sea, where the waters of the Mediterranean and the Atlantic converge, provide a great marine diversity, especially in the bays of Estepona and Málaga, areas known for the breeding of many species.
In a land with so much and so much Good to offer, the demand is of course up to the product available. There are two hotels that serve as examples of punctilious work when it comes to elaborating the most popular product at their restaurants: the Parador de Nerja and that of Málaga Golf.
With so much and so much good to choose from, the menu card is filled with these wonders from the sea. In Nerja, its chef, Esteban Martínez, remembers that they work exclusively with the freshest product of the market, to the point that in some occasions, they are not able to prepare a dish because there were no captures that day. His companion at the head of the kitchen of Málaga Golf, Juan Antonio Aguilar, adds that “Paradores makes a cuisine in which we do not mask the natural flavour of the products. As we always get the fish from the market every morning, we try to make the most of their taste”.
This is the secret of these chefs for bestow-ing glory onto these fish, giving them the importance that the product deserves. As Martínez says, “a simple sardine shines on a skewer; there it takes on a flavour that you won’t find if it’s been prepared in any other way”. These are chefs who know the possibilities of this popular technique. For this reason, the head chef of Málaga Golf warns that “anyone who comes to Málaga and does not try the espeto, the skewer, cannot be said to have enjoyed the stay. With this technique, the excess fat is consumed with the heat of the embers, bringing a perfect touch to the sardine”. It is the wisdom of what is classic.
And although it is an already veteran recipe, it still attracts attention. The chef of Nerja does not miss the chance to remind one that “people who come from outside are surprised by the taste of this fish cuisine. It’s something they look for whenever they come here.” But then, of course, there is al-ways the chance for a slight twist, as in the case of Málaga Golf, in which “we prepare a sardine that we slice and vacuum pack with oil and then apply a blowtorch. It’s an incredible flavour, presented in another way, that gains in comfort when it comes to consuming fish.”