There are very traditional dishes of Spanish cuisine. For example, Catalonia highlights “pà amb tomàquet”, in Madrid cocido madrileño, in the Valencian Community paella, Galician-style octopus in Galicia itself… But in Andalusia, beyond gazpacho and salmorejo, there is a dish that stands out a lot, and without a doubt it is the fried fish.
If you go to any part of AndalusiaIt is practically an obligation to eat this dish. Consists of the fried with wheat flour or grass peas of some fish and, afterwards, they are fried in olive oil. Fish that are normally used are chopitos, cazón, white bait, anchovies or pijotas, among others. To top off this dish, add a dried lemon above and taste one of the best dishes of Spanish cuisine.
There is no homogeneous discourse on his Origin. There are those who say it was introduced by Sephardic Jews, as Jacinto García recounts in A banquet for Sephardim: cuisine and customs of Spanish Jews, although there are also other languages that point to Phoenician navigators as possible introducers of this dish in the 3rd century BC
Why can it be bad for health?
The problem with this dish lies in the flour used, wheat flour. Keep in mind that this is a refined flour, which means that it is pre-processed to extract the wheat germ and bran (which would be the shell of the wheat itself, and precisely the part that contains vitamins, minerals and fiber).
Hence, what ends up being simply the endosperm, i.e. the kernel of the grain, which contains proteins, vitamins, essential fatty acids and minerals. The problem is that after extracting the other two parts, the nutrients, minerals and most importantly the fibers were lost, so nutritionally it stops being so good.
In addition, it contains a greater amount of simple carbohydrates, which are precisely those that are digested faster and end up being transformed into glucose more immediately. This means that it raises the glycemic index, a number that measures a food’s ability to raise blood sugar.
As the organism needs to reduce this level, it produces insulin to balance the levels. The problem is that if you don’t exercise a posteriori, excess insulin is converted into fat, so it may be linked to cardiovascular or metabolic disease.
It also does not contribute to improving the nutritional reputation of the dish which is fried in oil, since the fat content of the dish increases considerably. In addition, another problem arises with frying: the more you fry, the more acrylamide occurs.
These substances are naturally present in starches cooked at high temperature and low humidity. The dangerous thing about acrylamide is that the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has listed it as “potentially carcinogenic”, so be careful with frying. In fact, the darker the fried product becomes, the more acrylamide it contains, so keep that in mind.
If you wanted to turn this dish into something healthier, you could coat the fish with wholemeal flourfor example, or by cooking fish in a healthier way, such as in the oven.
We must not forget that the basic product is fish, an essential element of our diet for its protein, vitamin and mineral intake, and for having omega-3s and fatty acids beneficial for cardiovascular health.