Popular fish to eat in Spain - Spain is a nation of sea food lovers, but to anyone new to living here or a tourist some of these can be a bit daunting. Be brave and try something different and remember fish is healthy.
The popularity of fish is very evident as you wander through the supermarkets and indoor markets where you will see a wide range laid out over ice.
Below is a guide to the most popular fish eaten here in Spain.
Health experts recommend we eat oily fish at least once a week, as it contains omega-3 fatty acids, which help protect the heart and prevent heart disease, it is also an excellent source of vitamin D.
Anchovy - Anchovy are usually prepared and served in two different ways, which is why it often has two different names so can be confusing. Boquerones are anchovies, but not the extremely salty ones. These are called anchoas.
The Boquerones that can be seen on restaurant menus are dipped in batter, fried and served hot, these are what we would generally call whitebait, (a generic name for immature fry of fish, between 25 and 50 millimetres long) or served cold in which case they have been marinated in vinegar, olive oil and garlic.
Sardine, Sardines, or sardinas - Also a very popular fish here in Spain. Order them by the dozen or half dozen, they are often eaten as a tapa as they are quite cheap. Fresh sardines that have been grilled on an open fire, sprinkled with rock salt and served with a wedge of lemon are lovely. Sardines can also be fried or baked in a casserole with potatoes and wine.
Mackerel - Known as caballa in Spanish. This is often floured and fried, it is also great baked or grilled. The Spanish version of this fish is called estornino and is sometimes sold as caballa. It can also be found served cold as an appetizer/tapa, marinated in vinegar, herbs and onions.
Popular fish to eat in Spain
Tuna - Fresh tuna (atún) is often found on menus in Spanish restaurants and also in readily available in supermarkets. It is generally sold in steaks and is a popular substitute for meat as its flesh is very firm with a strong texture. It is great grilled, baked or even pot-roasted in wine.
Popular fish to eat in Spain
Bonito - Wherever you see tuna, you are also likely to see ‘bonito’. As well as being the word for ‘pretty’, bonito is also given to fish from the tuna family.
This type of fish can be found in all good restaurants and usually less expensive than many other fish. This fish is of excellent quality and abundant in Spanish waters. There are two main types available.
Gilt-head bream - Also known as Dorada, this is the most expensive bream but the nicest one in flavour. It is often served whole and baked in a sea-salt crust. It is best cooked by grilling or baking.
Red bream - Also popular in Span and is even served on Christmas Eve for the traditional family meal. Besugo is best served char-grilled on an open fire.
Red mullet - Known as Salmonete in Spanish. This is a smallish fish that has quite a delicate light flavour. The liver of this fish is considered a delicacy and is usually left intact when the fish is cleaned. Salmonete is very popular in Spain and in other Mediterranean countries.
Grey mullet - Common in Spanish markets but is different to the red mullet in that is has a strong, earthy and distinctive flavour that is not to everyone’s taste. This fish is known as lisa in Spanish and is sometimes confused with sea bass, although it is cheaper in price. Lisa is best served with an acidic sauce containing lemon, white wine vinegar and garlic.
Flat Fish - Several types of flat fish are popular in Spain; some are quite inexpensive whilst others that are common in the UK but not found in Spanish waters and have to be imported are obviously more expensive.
Turbot - This is one of the most expensive fish on the market, mainly because it is so scarce. The fillets are usually poached and served in a sauce.
Plaice - Known as Solla in Spanish, although common in the UK it can be hard to find here.
Sole - If see ‘lenguado’ on the menu, you’re likely to be served any variety of flat fish that looks like sole, some of which are very good and others not, so before placing your order check what fish you will actually be getting.
Monkfish - Called Rape (pronounced rah-pay) is now quite common in Spain. This fish is sweet-tasting and firm and can be used as a substituted for lobster in any recipe and is even known as poor man's lobster The tail is prized for its tenderness and mild flavour and is the part of the fish most commonly used in recipes.
Recipe - Monkfish with roasted garlic sauce
Sea bass - which is known as lubina in Spanish and is very popular in Spanish restaurants and markets. It is generally served whole baked in the oven, grilled or simply served with salt and lemon.
Grouper - Called Mero in Spanish and can generally be found in the frozen fish section in supermarkets rather than in the fresh fish market with fresh produce.
Hake or merluza is probably the most popular and most widely used fish in Spain, it is very cheap to buy. Fish fingers, which are generally made from cod in the UK, are made from hake in Spain. Merluza are found abundantly in Spanish waters. You will find this in all restaurants, supermarkets and fresh markets.
Cod - Cod is not found in the waters in Spain, although it can be found in supermarkets and markets, but in its salted and dried form known as Bacalo which is used in many Spanish recipes.
Red Snapper - This is one of the most popular of all the white fish and can be found all over the world, it's called Pargo Roja or sometimes Huachinango in Spanish. Whole red snapper can be broiled, grilled, pan-fried, steamed, baked or deep-fried, fillets are good pan-fried or steamed. Red snapper is also a good ingredient for fish stews. This is a good recipe for red snapper or any other white fish - Fish in Onion Sauce.
Skate - Known as raya in Spanish. You won’t generally find it in the supermarkets here, but you will see occasionally in the fish markets. The large wings are the part of the fish that is edible, but it does have a very strong flavour.
Swordfish - Known as pez espapda or emperador (emperor fish). This is a popular fish in Spain and is great for those that are not too keen on fish, as it has a very meaty texture and mild taste. It is usually sold in steaks and is delicious grilled or baked and served simply with lemon and salt.
Trout - Trucha is quite popular in Spain as it is farmed quite a lot all over the country. You will find it sold whole or cut into fillets.
Salmon - Salmon is fished from the waters of northern Spain and is also imported from Norway or Canada. This is also a popular fish that you will find in all markets, restaurants and supermarkets, but can be quite expensive.
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