Mentioning the word sardines is talking about the Costa del Sol. One of the obligatory stops on your trip to Malaga is to enjoy a “espeto de sardinas” in any of its beach restaurants (chiringuitos).
If you have already been to Malaga, you probably has seen how the “espeteros” roast the fish at any of the beach restaurants on the promenade. This tradition dates back to the 19th century and has been preserved until today. Skewers, and more specifically the sardine skewers (espetos de sardinas), are a Malaga cuisine classic. One of the most appreciated delicacies by locals and tourists. One of the most demanded specialties in beach bars and restaurants on the extensive coast of Malaga.
What is the skewer?
“Espetar” is to stick a series of fish in a cane to roast them on the grill, the most popular being the espeto de sardinas. Traditionally, the cane is stuck in the sand next to the embers or, in the case of the chiringuitos, in a boat prepared with embers.
This way of cooking is transmitted from generation to generation to the so-called “amoragadores”. In order to eat the “espetos, local people in Malaga usually say that the best time to eat them coincide with the months that do not have the letter “R”.
In the nineteenth century the province of Malaga lived mainly from fishing. At that time the sardines, because of their low price, were a food of humble people, especially those who lived from fishing, who were satisfied even with the “bastina”, which is what is called the remains of fish.
At the end of the century, El Palo, which is now a district of Malaga capital, was a fishing village in full socioeconomic development. It is at this time, specifically in 1882, when Miguel Martínez Soler “Migué el de las sardinas” opens his famous beach bar: “La gran parada”. It would be the beginning of the beach restaurants on the Costa del Sol and it was he who started to prick the sardines in a piece of cane and put it on the sand next to the fire.
“La gran parada” soon claimed the attention not only of locals in Malaga, but also of illustrious figures of the History of Spain, becoming a point of reference for people related to the world of entertainment. Among these illustrious figures, King Alfonso XII, who visited “La gran parada” on January 21, 1885, stands out. This visit to the chiringuito coincided with an official trip of the king on the occasion of an earthquake that occurred in the Axarquía.
On your trip to Malaga you will not be able to see the legendary “La gran parada”, but the legacy continues and you will be able to enjoy a tasty sardines in any beach restaurant on the Costa del Sol.
How to cook them
Even if it looks simple, espeto has its own tricks. To prepare it properly we need to skew the fish through its stomach and through a specific spine lateral with a previously prepared cane branch. After this, we need to stick the branch on the sand next to the fire and put coarse salt on the fish. In Costa del Sol it is common to do this in a boat full of sand where the fire is made so that the fish is grilled.
How to eat them
Normally each espeto comes with four or five sardines. It best way toe at them is with your hands. A touch of lemon is enough to condiment this feast that fills your palate with flavour.
What to drink with your “espetos”
Try some Barbadillo white wine or a classic sangria