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Cooking fish: sardines and anchovies

Fresh sardines and anchovies look very similar with their silvery skin and the slim shape. In fact, both fishes belong to the herring species and are closely related. The name sardine comes from the Latin word "sarda" meaning herring. Both sardines and anchovies move through the oceans in huge shoals, behaviour that protects them very effectively from their natural enemies, all except man.

Sardines are often fried whole

Sardines (Sardina pilchardus) can be over 20 cm long; they are slightly larger and more rounded than the anchovy. The smaller specimens are called sardines and the larger fish pilchards. Fresh sardines are often fried or grilled whole. You can also buy them all year round tinned and preserved in oil. There’s a wide choice of canned sardines – whole or filleted, with or without heads, with or without skin and sometimes with different flavours, such as tomato sauce.

Anchovy fillets – versatile and tasty

The anchovy (Engraulis encrasicolus) is 10 cm smaller and slimmer than the sardine. In cross-section, it is oval rather than round. You’ll usually encounter anchovies as fillets, salted in olive oil, but you might also fancy anchovy paste. The intense taste develops through an enzymatic ripening process after salting. It makes anchovies excellent for flavouring anything from pasta sauces to pizzas. Try making anchovy butter.

Cooking with anchovies

You’re more likely to find fresh anchovies for sale in a Mediterranean country than further north. They can be prepared in many ways – as antipasti, fresh or marinated, breaded or in batter. Like their salted counterparts, they make a tasty meal.


Source: Heike Kreutz, www.bzfe.de