Anchovies, small fish with a big impact

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Anchovies, small fish with a big impact, have been known for centuries for their distinctive flavor and versatile use in the kitchen. In this overview, I will provide you with more information about where anchovies come from, why they are a great addition to your diet, and how you can incorporate this delicious fish into your favorite dishes.


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Anchovy (Engraulis encrasicolus) is a small saltwater fish belonging to the herring family. This fish is commonly found in the Mediterranean Sea, the Black Sea, the Atlantic Ocean, and parts of the Pacific Ocean. It is known for its strong, salty taste and is often used in salted or fermented form to flavor various dishes.


  1. Rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Fresh anchovies are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, particularly eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). These essential fatty acids play a crucial role in promoting a healthy heart and supporting brain function.
  2. High-Quality Proteins: Fresh anchovies are a great protein source that contains all essential amino acids. Proteins are essential for muscle building, tissue repair, and maintaining a healthy immune system.
  3. Vitamins and Minerals: This fish is rich in nutrients such as vitamin B12, niacin, calcium, iron, and selenium. All of these are important for optimal health and well-being.
  4. Promotes Healthy Bones: The presence of calcium and vitamin D in anchovies contributes to maintaining strong bones and teeth.
  5. Anti-Inflammatory Properties: The omega-3 fatty acids in anchovies can reduce inflammation and potentially provide protection against certain chronic diseases.
  6. Watch out for salted anchovies in cans: Fresh anchovies themselves do not contain much salt, about 0.2%. However, during the pickling process, they can lie in sea salt for up to a month before being packaged. In one such can, there may be up to 15% added salt.
  7. Watch out for the calories in oil-packed salted anchovies: One small can of 100g can contain up to 220 kcal.


Anchovies are widely used in Mediterranean cuisine and can be prepared in various ways:

  1. Anchovy Fillets: Fresh anchovies can be marinated in lemon juice, olive oil, or vinegar and served with crispy bread as an appetizer. In Spain, we call this dish “Boquerones en vinagre” … Boquerones and anchovies are the same fish; the only difference lies in how they are prepared.
  2. Salted Anchovies: This variety is often used as a flavor enhancer in sauces, salads, and pasta dishes.
  3. Anchovy Paste: Anchovy paste can be spread on toasted bread, pizza, or added to pasta dishes for extra umami flavor.
  4. Tapenade: A delicious tapenade can be made by mixing anchovies with olives, capers, and olive oil. This tastes great on crackers or as a dip.


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canned anchovy fillets

Anchovies are not only a flavorful addition to many dishes, but they also offer numerous health benefits due to the nutrients they contain. Whether you are a fan of Mediterranean cuisine or simply looking for a nutritious fish option, anchovies are definitely worth a try. Not everyone enjoys the salty taste of salted anchovies, so try them fresh or in olive oil. Add this versatile fish to your diet and enjoy the flavor and health benefits it has to offer.

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by Patricia

I am Patricia, energetic 40'er, architect, business manager and food blogger. Living in Andalusia but from Flanders - Belgium. Mother of 2 active and creative kids who, together with my husband Geert, form the tasting team of the first order!
Cooking has become a passion. Everything starts with devising an original recipe and that’s when my love for food photography & styling comes across… In my blog you will get to know my healthy Mediterranean fusion cuisine!

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