There are anchovies, and then there are boquerones. Our Matiz marinated white anchovies from Spain or boquerones are unlike any other seafood you’ve had. Plump, briny, meaty and unctuous, they are a flavor experience on par with fresh oysters or a very delicately done ceviche.
Every month, we fly these boquerones in fresh from the northern Mediterranean coast of Spain, where a small family company called Siro & Xavi (named after the two sons) has been producing anchovies since 1975. Their father, the patriarch who started the business, Isidro Codina, came from a long line of fishermen – four generations to be exact – so finding the best fish and producing a superior product is a strong current that flows through the family history. Producing marinated and salted anchovies is all this family does, and they do it very well. Time and time again people tell us that they are the absolute best on the market, and we certainly agree.
Siro & Xavi select from their fishermen the biggest, fattest anchovies, a European species called engraulis encrasicolus that is characterized by a large cleft mouth. This feature is what gives these briny beauties their name – boquerón means “big mouth” in Spanish. Each plump little fish is cleaned and then packed by hand in a beautiful braided pattern that shows off their silvery-white color. They are then marinated in-package in white wine vinegar, sunflower oil and just the right amount of salt. Served chilled or at room temperature, these little fish are perfect all on their own, or wrapped around an olive and skewered with a piparra pepper.
In Spain it’s common to find them presented in simple fashion, placed on a slice of toasted bread, sprinkled with parsley and given another good douse of oil. They are also lovely with a slice of egg and a strip of piquillo pepper. In tapas bars all over Spain, they are wildly popular, and once you try one you’ll know why. Boquerones have this lovely balance of meaty texture, salt, oil and acidity that makes you want to keep popping them into your mouth. And if you want to really have an over-the-top experience, pour yourself a little glass of dry fino sherry to go alongside. Game over.
A few more recipes with boquerones: