About a year ago, I had the pleasure of bar-hopping for a few weeks—tapas-bar-hopping, that is—in Andalucia, which is just about the best place in the world to go tapas-bar-hopping. Oh, the things I tasted. The vegetables. The olive oil. The hams and sausages. And…..most of all….the seafood. I had expected, of course, that incredible Spanish array of things in shells to steal the show. And they almost did. But top tapa honors, I have to admit, went to a piece of fish without any shells at all: shark, fried and marinated in Moorish spices. It is a roaring party-starter of the first order. When I dragged this winner into my own kitchen—after a frustrating search for great shark—I discovered that the succulence factor grows even stronger if you switch out swordfish for shark. And, of course, if you pop an ice-cold manzaznilla to wash it down.
Cazón en Adobo
(Andalusian Fried Fish with Spicy Marinade)
2 tablespoons good white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 medium garlic cloves, peeled, mashed to a paste with a little salt
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
a good grind of black pepper
1 lb. swordfish filet, skin removed, cut in 3/4″ chunks
olive oil for deep-frying
2 cups flour
Servings: If served among other tapas, good for a dozen people.
1. In a bowl, mix together the vinegar, olive oil, garlic, cumin, paprika, oregano and black pepper.
2. Add the swordfish to the bowl, coating the chunks evenly. Place in refrigerator for as little as 4-8 hours, or as much as 4 days.
3. About an hour before cooking, remove marinated swordfish from the refrigerator.
4. When ready to cook, pour a few inches of olive oil into your frying vessel (like a wok, or a medium-sized saucepan). Bring oil to 380 degrees.
5. While oil is heating, place the flour in a wide, shallow bowl. Just before frying, place each piece of fish in the flour and coat well. Then, wetting your hand with water, remove each piece of fish from the flour with the other hand, and sprinkle heavily with water (trying not to knock off the flour that’s already on). Return that piece to the flour, and roll well, pressing on as much flour as you can. As soon as you’ve finished a piece, lay it on a rack to dry. Continue this process until all of the chunks are coated and resting on the rack.
6. If your frying vessel is large enough, fry all of the chunks at once, or break into several batches. Cook each chunk until golden-brown, approximately 2-3 minutes. When a chunk is done, drain it on paper towels, and sprinkle with salt. Serve each cooked piece as quickly as possible.
David Rosengarten is a travel writer, cookbook author and TV journalist who has hosted or co-hosted approximately 2,500 shows on the Food Network. A frequent guest on NBC’s Today show, David has written about food and wine for a wide array of publications and travels frequently throughout the U.S., Europe, Latin America and Asia, writing and lecturing on various culinary subjects Currently, David is the editor-in-chief of The Rosengarten Report, which received the James Beard Award in 2003 for the best food and wine newsletter in the country.
Recipes by Rosengarten is a recurring bi-weekly feature on www.winemag.com.