Absolutely Malaga, trying the espeto on the beach
Have you ever eaten at a beach restaurant, or chiringuito, in or around Malaga in summer? If yes you’ve probably seen, smelled, or tasted an espeto of sardines. This is a traditional way of cooking freshly-caught sea fish. The espetos of sardines look especially beautiful, with rows of shiny silver fish turning golden in the heat. Espetar means to spear, drive through with something.
How to prepare espeto.
Ingredients: 2kg sardines, 40cm wooden skewers, bucket of ice, coarse sea salt, lemons.
Clean the sardines under running water to remove any blood or loose scales, but don’t remove their heads or gut them. Rinse well.
Put the fish in a bucket of ice while you prepare the fire for roasting them, so they’re as firm as possible when pierced, and soak the wooden skewers in water – this stops them burning.
Use a metal container full of sand as a barbeque, with pieces of wood inside it to make the fire. Light the wood and wait until it has some good flames.
When the fire is ready, skewer the sardines, making sure the espeto is slightly bent so the row of sardines is concave. Pierce the sardines through the middle, from spine to belly, with the skewer above the spine. Be careful not to put the skewer too far to either side of the fish’s spine, or it’ll be raw on one side and burned on the other. Continue until you have about six sardines on each espeto. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt.
Put the skewers of sardines on the fire, putting the curved side up first so the sardines aren’t too close to the flames. When the sardines are cooked on one side (the skin will have turned golden), turn them over to cook them on the other side.
To serve, take the sardines off the espetos carefully, put them on a plate and squeeze lemon juice over them. Eat the fish in your fingers while still hot with some bread. Best accompanied by a cold beer or tinto de verano.