The humble European pilchard (Sardina pilchardus), the ‘poor cousin’ of the more aristocratic anchovy and the hearty herring, is known in Asturias as the parrocha (parrochina in its smaller versions). It is one of the staple fares in any cider tavern (and more than a few restaurants) and much-loved in maritime city of Gijón, where it can be eaten fresh off the boat almost all year round. This member of the group of oily or “·blue”, heart-friendly fish is a great source of Omega-3 and delicious into the bargain!
Whether simply deep-fried in olive oil, with just a dusting of flour maybe to stop the pan from spattering the cook with hot oil, or with some sliced cured ham to add that extra touch of salt and contrast in flavours, this is a fish that is full of flavour, yet easy on the pocket.
Parrochas (parrochinas) are considered finger food in Asturias. So don’t be shy about picking them up and nibbling away at the juicy flesh, once you’ve let them cool enough, of course. Some people even eat them whole: head, bones and tail included (a great source of calcium by the way). They would be deemed finger-licking good if licking your fingers wasn’t (sadly) considered somewhat bad manners in Spain!
So on your first (or next) trip to the capital of the Costa Verde, don’t miss out on this humble, yet delicious treat…
Una tapa de parrochas, por favor!