Anchovy: what is it? And how do you cook it?

From frying it to cleaning it and other tips

Anchovies are known for their salty taste and are perfect in pasta or on pizzas. But what exactly are anchovies and how do you cook them? In this article you can read all about this tasty fish.

Chapter 1

What kind of fish is anchovy?

The anchovy is a slender ray-finned fish that includes as many as 139 species. It is about 20 cm long, has a rounded snout and a short jaw.

Its gray body has a silver sideline and the back is light blue to blue-green and it lives in very large schools. Such a school of anchovies is a glittering and special appearance.

Chapter 2

Where does the fish come from?

The anchovy is mainly found in the Mediterranean Sea, the Sea of Azov, the western Indian Ocean, the Atlantic Ocean and the Black Sea. It’s able to tolerate high salt levels in the water of as much as 41 to 50%.

The eggs prefer to be laid in less salt water, which means that they can be found more near estuaries, lagoons and lakes in the warmer seasons from April to November. They lay the fertilized eggs here in the top 50 meters of the water’s surface.

After laying, the fish hatch at breakneck speed. They only need 24 to 65 hours for this. Whether all eggs hatch properly depends entirely on the ambient temperature. Breeding success is considerably higher in the warmer waters than in the cooler waters.

The anchovy fishing season usually runs from October to June.

Chapter 3

What does anchovy taste like?

Although the anchovies are slender, their bones are very soft and supple. In most cases, these are not removed before they are used in dishes.

If you’re not a fan of fishbones, you can easily remove them with your fingertips. Just rinse under the tap and your anchovy fillet is ready for use.

The well-known meat of the fish has a very dominant salty taste that is often used in Italian dishes, such as in pasta or on pizza.

Chapter 4

Are anchovies healthy?

Fresh anchovies are very low in fat and therefore contain few Omega 3 fatty acids that support your body in cell repair.

Even though this fish does not contain much fat, the anchovies are a huge source of protein. These contribute to the maintenance of muscles, skin, bones and blood. In addition, the proteins provide the body with a good dose of energy to get through the day.

Canned anchovies often contain Omega 3 fatty acids. Both variants are low in sodium and therefore extra healthy.

You don’t have to worry too much about mercury in anchovies. These animals feed on plankton, so they ingest very little of this poison. It even belongs to the fish species that have the least mercury residue in their system.

Chapter 5

Which wine goes with anchovies?

Due to the salty nature of the anchovy, not every wine goes well with this. If you want to create a not too dominant effect, go for a dry white or rosé wine or one with fresh acids. For example a delicious Laguna, a Sauvignon Blanc, a Verdicchio or a tasty Riesling.

Chapter 6

How to cook anchovies?

Anchovies are not only perfect on pizza, but you can also make many other dishes from them. You can make a delicious anchovy tapenade or anchovy butter.

A whole anchovy is also very tasty on toast while having a drink. This fish is also perfect with a delicious fresh green salad or just raw as an anti-pasti.

If you want to try anchovies in a different way, you can also combine them with a piece of meat or grind them into your homemade pasta sauce.

Frying it in a pan

When you’re going to fry anchovies in a pan, it’s very important that you dry the fish well after cleaning.

  1. Pat the fish dry with paper towels or a clean kitchen towel.
  2. Put a dash of oil or butter in a pan and heat well.
  3. Depending on how much you fry at the same time, the anchovies will be cooked in about 3 to 4 minutes.

How do you store the fish?

Fresh anchovies can be stored in different ways. The colder you keep them, the better. You can still enjoy it after 3 months in a well-sealed freezer bag or container.

In the refrigerator, it is better to consume the fish within one day and to ensure that it’s not left out of the refrigerator for more than two hours. If you have to leave them outside for a little longer, you can also wrap the fish in aluminum foil and place ice cubes or cooling elements against it.

If you want to keep anchovies a little longer, you can also consider drying, salting or pickling them in olive oil or vinegar. Always store anchovies air and moisture tight for best results.

Can you replace the fish?

Anchovies are quite a unique product that’s not easy to replace. To mimic the salty taste, you can think of using black olives. However, these contain much more salt, so we recommend using them in moderation.

Ground anchovy in itself is a very good replacement for, for example, a tapenade or a fish sauce. It’s a lot less greasy, contains less salt and still retains its delicious salty taste.

How do you clean anchovies?

You can literally and figuratively clean anchovies in no time. First, make sure the fish is on its back. Then apply a light pressure on the abdomen so that the intestines are pushed out. You remove this with your other hand after which you can remove the head.

Finally remove the bone with your finger, cut off the tip of the tail fin. After rinsing it with cold running water, they are completely ready for use.