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Friday, June 15, 2012


It's a tough life being a tope
Photo from
cazón, tollo, nioito (obs.), L. Galeorhinus galeus, Eng. tope shark. Edible fish resembling the dogfish normally served without sauce. It is a popular as its white, lean, firm dry and salty meat. When preparing to cook the meat is sliced or cut into pieces. It is good in marinated and grilled or fried. Villena states that if fried the head and parts of the body closest to it are the tastiest. If boiled, the thickest meat is the best but it is bland. It has an elongated body, large conic face, gray on top and white underneath. The average weight of a tope shark is a little over 100 lbs. The largest can be two meters long. It is found in the Atlantic and the Mediterranean especially in the Bay of Cadiz, Granada, Almeria and Malaga especially during migratory periods in the summer. It lives in very deep water and eats various fish, some shellfish and mollusks. It is abundant in SW England. See cazón. [Castro. Alimentación.1996:322; ES: Bester. Apr 1, 04; and Villena/Calero. 2002:39a]

Fresh Tope Shark
at the Market in Jerez de la Frontera, Spain
Photo by: MRSamper


1 lb tope shark
4 garlic cloves
2 bay leaves
salt to taste
1 tbsp mixed spices (1 tsp dry mustard, 1 tsp black pepper, ¼ tsp ground cloves, ¼ tsp ginger, ¼ tsp ground nutmeg, ¼ tsp cinnamon)
1 heaping tbsp oregano
1 tsp ground cumin
1 c white wine
1 c water
flour for frying
virgin olive oil for deep frying

Accompanied by:

allioli* (optional)


 Jowene is Gourmet
Clean the tope shark, debone it, remove the skin and wash it removing the blood. Cut it into small pieces and place them in a bowl. Remove the outer skin of garlic cloves but do not peel off the inner skin. Mash them in a mortar. Add the bay leaves torn in pieces.  Add salt to taste, ½ the mixed spices, oregano, cumin, wine and water. Mix all well and taste. It should not be insipid. Cover and refrigerate for a minimum of 6 hours or overnight.

Strain the fish and other solids and dry them on paper towels. Let sit 10-20 minutes.

Mix the flour with the other half of the spice mixture and salt to taste. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan to deep fry the fish. When the oil is very hot, fry the fish and garlic until golden brown. Remove and place on paper towels to absorb excess olive oil. Serve with warm with lemon wedges and a vegetable or salad.

*For the recipe see blog with this title published August 4, 2011.


  1. I think I took the picture in Jerez de la Frontera (Cádiz, Andalusia), the craddle of this recipe: cazón is not usually found in the Cantabric Coast so this is a typically Andalusian recipe. Of course as it happens with most "typical" recipes, there are as many versions as cooks. I must try yours, as it consists of very rich, pre-American spices. By the way, if you people around the world happen to come to Spain, another name for this is "bienmesabe" (tastes good). As it is very tasty, I should advice NOT to sprinkle lemon on. This is valid also for the more "modern" and modest version, using "American" ingredients for the marinade: origan, garlic, paprika (pimentón) and vinegar (you know my weakness for Sherry vinegar),eventually softened by a little (mind just a little!!!) water. But as I wrote before, you will hardly find two identical "adobos" or "bienmesabe". Try it, it is a classic of the mixed fried fish (pescadito frito),together with boquerones (fried anchovies), chopitos (baby squids) and other. Add a simple salad or a Gazpacho and you'll be inmediatelly in Andalusia. Go on!

    1. Ooops, thanks for the correction concerning the place where the photo was taken. Jerez is very appropriate due to its proximity to Cadiz.
      We have always used lemon - what about allioli?
      Yes, it is very good with a mixture of fried fish! Many thanks for the suggestions.

  2. This blog has been changed to include MRSamper's corrections.

  3. It could be ok with alioli, but, in my opinion:
    1) a marinade fish or meat has flavour enough, and lemon or strong sauces can "kill" the original taste. So much the worse if it is industrial mayonnaise or (completely forbidden!!! ketchup or mustard.
    2) we are getting too much used to "dips": we must consider we are not adding a sauce to a tasteless meat,fish or mexican trotilla or nacho; on the contrary, sauces should ever "accompany" and "underline", never "hide" (where is the use of so much marinating then?)
    3) think about calories!!
    In short: in my opinion, if you want to add something like lemon, mayonnaise or alioli, let it be only in very tiny amounts. But as with alioli and a loaf of bread near at hand that's almost impossible, think it twice or don't think at all (you'll eat more bread with alioli than cazón en adobo in the end)!!!

    1. What is a Spaniard without a sauce???
      You are most correct, dips can ruin flavors.

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