Food

Turn your home into a tapas restaurant

Raising the bar for bar snacks
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The idea of tapas has grown exponentially since the days when bars in Spain would give away bite-sized snacks with glasses of vino. More often than not, these tapas would consist of un-wanted fish remains, donated free to said bars by local fishermen. Spanish men would head out on a bar crawl, or tapeo, and indulge in a drink and a bite in several bars—the continental equivalent of our seven pints and a Ruby Murray.

When I was growing up in Dorset, I remember my father and his friends sitting in small boats by the beach waiting for the water to bubble with shoals of sprats. They would all but fill the boats and as far as I know, the proceeds of Dad’s catch were spent quayside at the local pubs. I’m not sure what my father’s friends called these sessions, but the nearest thing they probably got to tapas back then was a packet of Twiglets.

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These days, we can do better, with countless restaurants offering high-quality tapas at reasonable prices. Rather stay at home? Here are two recipes to get you started on the tapas trail. Just don’t forget the rioja.

 

Fried Pawns

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Serves 4 to 6

Prawning off the pier in West Bay with drop nets was a popular after-school activity when I was young. The catch was never big, but 100 or so prawns made a delicious teatime treat, with brown bread and butter. British prawns are generally quite small but are delicious deep-fried in their shells—you simply eat the whole prawn, head, legs and all. You can deep-fry them from raw. Alternatively, use small raw or cooked imported ones.

Ingredients

  • Vegetable or corn oil for frying
  • 150 to 200 g self-raising flour
  • Sea salt and cayenne pepper
  • 150 to 200 ml milk
  • 300 to 400 g fresh British prawns with the shells on, or small whole imported prawns
  • Wedges of lemon, to serve

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Directions

  • Pre-heat about 8 cm of oil to 160 to 180°C in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan or electric deep-fat fryer.
  • Have two bowls ready, one with the flour, well-seasoned with the salt and cayenne pepper, and the second with the milk. Coat the prawns in the flour, shaking off any excess, then dip them in the milk and then coat them in the flour again.
  • Fry the prawn, a couple of handfuls at a time, for 3 to 4 minutes, moving them around in the oil with a slotted spoon until golden and crisp, then transfer to a tray lined with kitchen paper. Season the prawns with sea salt and serve with fresh lemon wedges.


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Padron Peppers

Serves 4 

These small, chili-like green Spanish peppers are becoming increasingly available in delis, greengrocers, and supermarkets. They make a dead simple, tasty tapas dish with very little preparation necessary.

Ingredients

  • 2 to 4 tbsps olive oil for frying
  • 200 to 250 g pardon peppers
  • Flaky sea salt to serve

Directions

  • Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan and fry the peppers for 2 to 3 minutes, turning them as they are cooking, but not allowing them to color. 
  • Season well with the sea salt and serve immediately.

This article originally appeared in the July 2014 issue of Esquire Philippines. Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.

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Mark Hix
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