Fish, fresh salads and its particular take on gazpacho are some of the simple delights to get from Malaga.
With its long coastline bordering on the Mediterranean, succulent fresh fish is a distinctive feature of the cuisine of this warm southern city, which also lends its name to the surrounding province. Fish is typically prepared very simply in a crispy batter and served with a big wedge of lemon. All over the province, you will find boquerones on bar and restaurant menus. These are anchovies that have been fried in olive oil and they are a firm favourite of locals as a choice for tapas. Sometimes the anchovies are marinated in vinegar, salt, garlic and olive oil with a bay leaf and parsley for flavouring. The acid in the vinegar effectively "cooks" the fish which is usually served cold on top of a chunk of fresh bread.
Fritura malagueña is another popular dish featuring a medley of different types of fish according to what has emerged from the fisherman´s net on that particular day. A typical fritura may include sardinas (sardines), calamares (squid), salmonete (red mullet), sepia (cuttlefish), jurelito (mackerel), pescadilla (small hake), rape (monkfish), and rosada (Norwegian haddock).
Gambas al Pil Pil is another simple dish that tastes out of this world! There are some variations that include parsley and paprika but the basic recipe calls for olive oil which is gently heated to fry garlic and chili pepper. The prawns are added and briefly stir-fried before serving the dish sizzling hot in individual ramekins with with lots of fresh bread to mop up the delicious juices
Sardines that have been skewered and barbecued are very popular for family picnics and the big beach parties which are a regular occurrence along Andalucia´s coast. The night of San Juan, which marks the official start of summer, is celebrated all along the coast line of Andalucia is always a spectacular sight. Families and friends congregate on the beach to enjoy a massive party with the highlight being the stroke of midnight when bonfires are lit all along the coast and the youngsters dive into the sea,
Malaga also has a wide variety of famous soups and stews which often hark back to when most of Andalucia was primarily an agricultural society. These recipes are for simple, humble but delicious dishes which would once have been the staple fare of peasants and farm workers.
Porra Antequerana – Antequera is a large town which lies in a rugged, hill-covered area to the east of the province. This cold soup which Antequera has lent its name to is similar to gazpacho with a base of ripe tomatoes and smaller amounts of cucumber and green pepper seasoned with olive oil, garlic and vinegar or lemon. However, whereas traditional recipes call for the gazpacho to be thinned with iced water, this recipe has no added liquid. The resulting soup is very thick and filling with its garnish of ham, chopped hard-boiled egg, and tuna.
Ajo Blanco - This is a Malaga´s own twist on white gazpacho, the chilled soup based on round almonds that is eaten in many parts of Andalucia in summer. The Malaga version is characterised by muscatel grapes with their sweetness balanced by a very hefty dose of garlic. The contrast of flavours creates a unique and unusual taste experience.
Sopa de Ajos - This hot soup contains garlic, pieces of day old bread, water, olive oil, paprika, salt, and a poached egg for each diner which is added just before the soup is served, This is a humble peasant dish which was seen as a good way for thrifty housewives to use up stale bread. It is said to be very good for colds and keeping winter chills at bay but is probably not a good idea just before you go on a date.
Gazpachuelo Malagueño - This soup is a fish and potato soup made with vinegar. Its main ingredients are fish, potatoes, water, salt, mayonnaise and wine vinegar. Sometimes prawns are added as well or used as a substitute for the fish. It is traditionally accompanied by chopped hard-boiled egg and toasted bread.
Ensalada Malagueña - The key ingredient for this salad is e tasty cooked pieces of dried cod fish which has been desalted by soaking overnight in several changes of clean water. The fish has a wonderful firm texture and is set off to perfection by hard-boiled eggs, juicy purple olives, orange slices, cebolletas or spring onions, parsley, olive oil and salt.
Berza Malagueña - This is a hearty stew from the interior of the province which is traditionally cooked in the autumn when the annual matanza or slaughter of the family pigs takes place. Usually the men do the killing and then the women take over to create all types of delicious sausages and hams. This dish uses up all the parts of the pig that are difficult to preserve, such as the tail and ears.. Other ingredients include cabbage, pumpkin, carrots, garbanzo beans with a generous seasoning of paprika, garlic and cumin. Often morcilla, or blood sauasage, is also added to this recipe.
Gachas Malagueñas – This is a warm dessert that is served during winter. Basically it is fried bread squares that have a sweet mixture poured over them. This mixture consists of flour, sugar, water, milk, olive oil, and anisette. Sometimes honey is used instead of sugar and milk.
To end a meal there is also nothing like a glass of sweet Malaga dessert wine which is created from a blend of Pedro Ximénez and Moscatel grapes. Production is based around the Sierra de Almijara and Antequera, Archidona, San Pedro de Alcantara, Velez-Malaga ,and Competa, and it has been practiced since before Roman times. Demand for these rich wines that often taste of honey and raisins fell dramatically in the last century, but recently there has been a big revival of interest.