Seafood Handbook - Finfish: Anchovy

More than 20 different species within the Engraulidae family are marketed under the name anchovy.

Scientific name: Engraulis spp.
Market name: Anchovy
Common names: Anchovy, southern anchovy, northern anchovy, European anchovy, California anchovy, Japanese anchovy, silver anchovy, anchoveta
French: Anchovy
German: Sardelle
Italian: Acciuga
Japanese: Katakuchiiwashi
Spanish: Anchoa

Introduction to Anchovy

More than 20 different species within the Engraulidae family are marketed under the name anchovy. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Fish List recognizes five genus groups: Anchoa, Anchoviella, Cetengraulis, Engraulis and Stolephorus. The anchovy best known in culinary circles is Engraulis encrasicolus, the European or “true” anchovy, found in the Mediterranean, the Black Sea and warmer waters of the East Atlantic. Its North American counterpart, E. mordax, aka northern or California anchovy, ranges off the West Coast from Mexico to British Columbia. Silvery fish with blue-green backs, anchovies are tiny; maximum length is 8 inches. They favor warmer waters around the globe, swimming in huge schools that feed on algae and zooplankton. They are caught by deepwater trawlers, and the majority of the catch is canned, salted, turned into paste or distilled to make the Southeast Asian fish sauces like the Vietnamese nuoc mam. Anchovies are often confused with sardines, which in America are actually small herring.

Product Profile:

The meat of canned anchovy packed in oil is blush red, a result of the four-month salt-curing process. The meat of unprocessed anchovy is gray; it becomes off-white when cooked.Canned or salted anchovies have a pronounced, salty tang; fresh anchovies have a rich but subtle taste and a soft texture. The skin is edible.

Anchovy Nutrition Facts

Calories: 131
Fat Calories: 43
Total Fat: 4.8g
Saturated Fat: 1.3g
Cholesterol: 60mg
Sodium: 104 mg
Protein: 20.4g
Omega 3: 1.5g

How to Cook Anchovy

Use fresh anchovies as you would herring. Salted or canned anchovies are commonly used as flavoring agents; do not use them in recipes calling for fresh anchovies. Before serving or using canned fillets, rinse well under cold running water or soak in cool water for 30 minutes, then drain and pat dry. Fresh anchovies are delicious grilled, but if too small to place on the barbecue, they can be sprinkled with oil and herbs and broiled. They are also good lightly pan fried or marinated as escabèche.

Substitutions for Anchovy:

Cooking Methods:

  • Bake
  • Broil
  • Pan sear

Primary Product Forms:

Fresh: Whole, head off
Canned: Whole, Gutted, Fillets
Salted: Whole, Gutted, Fillets
Smoked or dried: Whole, Gutted, Fillets

Global Supply of Anchovy

Africa, Chile, France, Peru, Portugal, Spain, U.K., United States

Other Types of Fish and Seafood


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