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How to order fish and seafood in Spain

We reckon the Spanish do fish and seafood better than anyone. Here in Villajoyosa, there is a bewildering variety on offer, much of it caught locally. So how do you know what you're ordering? Many restaurants have menus in English, but the fishy translations below should help you find your way around any language difficulties.

If you fancy cooking fish yourself, most supermarkets in La Vila have a wide selection of fresh fish and seafood on display, or try the stalls in the local market.

FISH (pescados) * signifies fish landed in La Vila port

Atún*: tuna

Anchoas*: anchovies

Bacoreta*: tunny/little tunny

Besugo*: red bream

Boquerones: anchovies marinated in olive oil.

Boquerones fritos: fried anchovies

Bacalao: cod

Bonito: skipjack tuna

Caballa*: mackerel

Corvina*: stone bass or meagre. Often wrongly translated as sea bass, but it is a different species.

Congrio*: conger eel

Dentón*: dentex. No, I'd never heard of it either, but it's common in the Med and similar to bream.

Dorada*: gilt head bream

Emperador*: swordfish

Gallineta*: redfish or ocean perch

Gallo San Pedro*: John Dory

Gato*: dogfish or catshark (also known as Musola)

Jurel*(or Jurel Grande): horse mackerel or scad

Lenguado*: sole

Lubina*: sea bass

Maragota: ballan wrasse (a new one on me, but a distinctive red-coloured fish)

Merluza*: hake

Musola*: see Gato

Morralla*: assortment of small fish

Mero*: grouper

Pescaditos fritos*: assortment of small fried fish

Pez Espada*: swordfish

Rape* (pronounced 'rap-eh'): monkfish

Raya*: skate

Rodaballo*: turbot

Salmonetes*: red mullet

Salmón: salmon

Sardinas*: sardines

Trucha: trout

SEAFOOD (mariscos)

Almejas: clams

Berberechos: cockles

Bogavante: lobster

Cangrejo*: crab

Calamar*: squid

Carabinero*: red prawn

Chipirones*: baby squid

Cigalas*: langoustine (sometimes called Norway Lobster or Dublin Bay prawn)

Clochinas or clochinas malla: Mediterranean mussels from Valencia and Sagunto

Gambas*: prawn

Galera: mantis shrimp

Langostino*: king prawn

Langosta*: lobster

Mejillones: mussels (Clochinas: Mediterranean mussels)

Navajas: razor clams

Ostras: oysters

Percebe: goose barnacle

Pulpo*: octopus (try pulpo a la gallega: sliced octopus on a bed of sliced potato, with a sprinkling of salt & paprika)

Quisquillas*: shrimps

Sepia*: cuttlefish

Sepionet: small cuttlefish

Vieira: scallops


A la plancha/a la parilla/parillada: on the grill

A la brasa: on a charcoal or wood grill (usually meat)

A la romana: in a light batter (e.g. calamares a la romana)

A la marinera: cooked in white wine + onions (e.g. mejillones a la marinera)

Al vapor: steamed (e.g. berberechos al vapor)

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© Guy Pelham 2017

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