An anchovy is a small, common forage fish of the family Engraulidae. Most species are found in marine waters, but several will enter brackish water and some in South America are restricted to fresh water.[2]

The more than 140 species are placed in 17 genera; they are found in the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans, and in the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. Anchovies are usually classified as oily fish.[3]

Anchovy closeup
Scientific classification
Subfamilies & Genera[1]


Genera in the family Engraulidae
Genera Species Comment Genera Species Comment
Amazonsprattus 1 Anchoa 35
Anchovia 3 Anchoviella 4
Cetengraulis 2 Coilia 13
Encrasicholina 5 Engraulis 9 Type genus for anchovy: This genus contains all the commercially significant anchovy.
Jurengraulis 1 Lycengraulis 4
Lycothrissa 1 Papuengraulis 1
Pseudosetipinna 1 Pterengraulis 1
Setipinna 8 Stolephorus 20
Thryssa 24


Engraulis encrasicolus Gervais flipped
European anchovy, Engraulis encrasicolus

Anchovies are small, green fish with blue reflections due to a silver-colored longitudinal stripe that runs from the base of the caudal (tail) fin. They range from 2 to 40 cm (0.79 to 15.75 in) in adult length,[4] and their body shapes are variable with more slender fish in northern populations.

The snout is blunt with tiny, sharp teeth in both jaws. The snout contains a unique rostral organ, believed to be sensory in nature, although its exact function is unknown.[5] The mouth is larger than that of herrings and silversides, two fish which anchovies closely resemble in other respects. The anchovy eats plankton and recently hatched fish.


Anchovies are found in scattered areas throughout the world's oceans, but are concentrated in temperate waters, and are rare or absent in very cold or very warm seas. They are generally very accepting of a wide range of temperatures and salinity. Large schools can be found in shallow, brackish areas with muddy bottoms, as in estuaries and bays. The European anchovy is abundant in the Mediterranean, particularly in the Alboran Sea,[6] Aegean Sea and the Black Sea.

This species is regularly caught along the coasts of Crete, Greece, Sicily, Italy, France, Turkey, Portugal and Spain. They are also found on the coast of northern Africa. The range of the species also extends along the Atlantic coast of Europe to the south of Norway. Spawning occurs between October and March, but not in water colder than 12 °C (54 °F). The anchovy appears to spawn at least 100 km (62 mi) from the shore, near the surface of the water.


The anchovy is a significant food source for almost every predatory fish in its environment, including the California halibut, rock fish, yellowtail, shark, chinook, and coho salmon. It is also extremely important to marine mammals and birds; for example, breeding success of California brown pelicans[7] and elegant terns is strongly connected to anchovy abundance.

Feeding behavior

Anchovies, like most clupeoids (herrings, sardines and anchovies), are filter-feeders that open their mouths as they swim. As water passes through the mouth and out the gills, food particles are sieved by gill rakers and transferred into the esophagus.[8]

Commercial species

Commercially significant species
Common name Scientific name Maximum
European anchovy* Engraulis encrasicolus (Linnaeus, 1758) 20.0 cm (7.9 in) 13.5 cm (5.3 in) kg 5 years 3.11 [9] [10] [11] Not assessed
Argentine anchoita Engraulis anchoita (Hubbs & Marini, 1935) 17.0 cm (6.7 in) cm 0.025 kg (0.88 oz) years 2.51 [12] [13] [14] Not assessed
Californian anchovy Engraulis mordax (Girard, 1856) 24.8 cm (9.8 in) 15.0 cm (5.9 in) 0.068 kg (2.4 oz) years 2.96 [15] [16] [17] LC IUCN 3 1.svg Least concern[18]
Japanese anchovy Engraulis japonicus (Temminck & Schlegel, 1846) 18.0 cm (7.1 in) 14.0 cm (5.5 in) 0.045 kg (1.6 oz) 4 years 2.60 [19] [20] [21] Not assessed
Peruvian anchoveta Engraulis ringens (Jenyns, 1842) 20.0 cm (7.9 in) 14.0 cm (5.5 in) kg 3 years 2.70 [22] [23] [24] LC IUCN 3 1.svg Least concern[25]
Southern African anchovy Engraulis capensis (Gilchrist, 1913) 17.0 cm (6.7 in) cm kg years 2.80 [26] [27] [28] Not assessed

* Type species


Global capture of all anchovy
Capture of all anchovy reported by the FAO (green indicates Peruvian anchoveta)[29]
Time series for global capture of anchoveta
↑  Peruvian anchoveta 1950–2010 [29]
Time series for global capture of other anchovy
↑  Other anchovy 1950–2010 [29]
Time series for global capture of all anchovy 2
Global commercial capture of anchovy in million tonnes 1950–2010[29]

Black Sea

On average, the Turkish commercial fishing fleet catches around 300,000 tons per year, mainly in winter. The largest catch is in November and December.[30]


The Peruvian anchovy fishery is one of the largest in the world, far exceeding catches of the other anchovy species.

In 1973 it collapsed catastrophically due to the combined effects of overfishing and El Niño[31] and did not recover fully for two decades.

As food

Antonio Sicurezza - Still life with anchovies
Still Life with Anchovies, 1972, Antonio Sicurezza

A traditional method of processing and preserving anchovies is to gut and salt them in brine, allow them to cure, and then pack them in oil or salt. This results in a characteristic strong flavor and the flesh turns deep grey. Pickled in vinegar, as with Spanish boquerones, anchovies are milder and the flesh retains a white color. In Roman times, anchovies were the base for the fermented fish sauce garum. Garum had a sufficiently long shelf life for long-distance commerce, and was produced in industrial quantities. Anchovies were also eaten raw as an aphrodisiac.[32]

Today, they are used in small quantities to flavor many dishes. Because of the strong flavor, they are also an ingredient in several sauces and condiments, including Worcestershire sauce, Caesar salad dressing, remoulade, Gentleman's Relish, many fish sauces, and in some versions of Café de Paris butter. For domestic use, anchovy fillets are packed in oil or salt in small tins or jars, sometimes rolled around capers. Anchovy paste is also available. Fishermen also use anchovies as bait for larger fish, such as tuna and sea bass.

The strong taste people associate with anchovies is due to the curing process. Fresh anchovies, known in Italy as alici, have a much milder flavor.[33] In Sweden and Finland, the name anchovies is related strongly to a traditional seasoning, hence the product "anchovies" is normally made of sprats[34] and herring can be sold as "anchovy-spiced". Fish from the family Engraulidae are instead known as sardell in Sweden and sardelli in Finland, leading to confusion when translating recipes.

See also


  1. ^ Nelson, Joseph S.; Grande, Terry C.; Wilson, Mark V. H. (2016). Fishes of the World (5th ed.). John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 9781118342336.
  2. ^ Loeb, M.V. (2012). "A new species of Anchoviella Fowler, 1911 (Clupeiformes: Engraulidae) from the Amazon basin, Brazil". Neotropical Ichthyology. 10 (1): 13–18. doi:10.1590/s1679-62252012000100002.
  3. ^ "What's an oily fish?". Food Standards Agency. 2004-06-24.
  4. ^ Froese, Rainer, and Daniel Pauly, eds. (2008). "Engraulidae" in FishBase. December 2008 version.
  5. ^ Nelson, Gareth (1998). Paxton, J.R.; Eschmeyer, W.N., eds. Encyclopedia of Fishes. San Diego: Academic Press. pp. 94–95. ISBN 0-12-547665-5.
  6. ^ C.Michael Hogan. 2011. Alboran Sea. eds. P.Saundry & C.J.Cleveland. Encyclopedia of Earth. National Council for Science and the Environment. Washington DC
  7. ^ Anderson, Daniel W.; Gress, Franklin; Mais, Kenneth F.; Kelly, Paul R. (1980). North, Nance, ed. "Brown pelicans as anchovy stock indicators and their relationships to commercial fishing" (PDF). CalCOFIs Reports. California Cooperative Oceanic Fisheries Investigations. 21: 55. Pelican reproductive rate ... depends largely on levels of anchovy abundance and availability.
  8. ^ Bone, Q., & Marshall, N. (1982). Biology of fishes. Glasgow: Blackie.
  9. ^ Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2012). "Engraulis encrasicolus" in FishBase. April 2012 version.
  10. ^ Engraulis encrasicolus (Linnaeus, 1758) FAO, Species Fact Sheet. Retrieved April 2012.
  11. ^ "Engraulis encrasicolus". Integrated Taxonomic Information System.
  12. ^ Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2012). "Engraulis anchoita" in FishBase. April 2012 version.
  13. ^ Engraulis anchoita (Hubbs & Marini, 1935) FAO, Species Fact Sheet. Retrieved April 2012.
  14. ^ "Engraulis anchoita". Integrated Taxonomic Information System.
  15. ^ Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2012). "Engraulis mordax" in FishBase. April 2012 version.
  16. ^ Engraulis mordax (Girard, 1856) FAO, Species Fact Sheet. Retrieved April 2012.
  17. ^ "Engraulis mordax". Integrated Taxonomic Information System.
  18. ^ Iwamoto, T.; Eschmeyer, W. & Alvarado, J. (2010). "Engraulis mordax". The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN. 2010: e.T183856A8189272. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2010-3.RLTS.T183856A8189272.en. Retrieved 26 December 2017.
  19. ^ Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2012). "Engraulis japonicus" in FishBase. April 2012 version.
  20. ^ Engraulis japonicus (Temminck & Schlegel, 1846) FAO, Species Fact Sheet. Retrieved April 2012.
  21. ^ "Engraulis japonicus". Integrated Taxonomic Information System.
  22. ^ Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2012). "Engraulis ringens" in FishBase. April 2012 version.
  23. ^ Engraulis ringens (Jenyns, 1842) FAO, Species Fact Sheet. Retrieved April 2012.
  24. ^ "Engraulis ringens". Integrated Taxonomic Information System.
  25. ^ Iwamoto T, Eschmeyer W & Alvarado J (2010). "Engraulis ringens". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 6 April 2012.
  26. ^ Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2012). "Engraulis capensis" in FishBase. April 2012 version.
  27. ^ Engraulis capensis (Gilchrist, 1913) FAO, Species Fact Sheet. Retrieved April 2012.
  28. ^ "Engraulis capensis". Integrated Taxonomic Information System.
  29. ^ a b c d Based on data sourced from the relevant FAO Species Fact Sheets
  30. ^ "Turkish Black Sea Acoustic Surveys: Winter distribution of anchovy along the Turkish coast" (PDF). Middle East Technical University Institute of Marine Sciences.
  31. ^
  32. ^ "Tacitus: Germania".
  33. ^ "White Anchovy Fillets (Boquerones)".
  34. ^ "Food: First catch your anchovies". The Independent.

Further reading

External links

Anchovies as food

Anchovies are a family (Engraulidae) of small, common salt-water forage fish. There are 144 species in 17 genera, found in the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific Oceans. Anchovies are usually classified as an oily fish. They are small, green fish with blue reflections due to a silver longitudinal stripe that runs from the base of the caudal fin. They range from 2 centimetres (0.79 in) to 40 centimetres (16 in) in adult length, and the body shape is variable with more slender fish in northern populations.

A traditional method of processing and preserving anchovies is to gut and salt them in brine, allow them to mature, and then pack them in oil or salt. This results in a characteristic strong flavor and the flesh turns deep grey. Anchovies pickled in vinegar, as with Spanish boquerones en vinagre, are milder and the flesh retains a white color. In Roman times, anchovies were the base for the fermented fish sauce garum. Garum had a sufficiently long shelf life for long-distance commerce, and was produced in industrial quantities. Anchovies were also eaten raw as an aphrodisiac.Today they are used in small quantities to flavor many dishes. Because of the strong flavor, they are also an ingredient in several sauces, including Worcestershire sauce, remoulade and many fish sauces, and in some versions of Café de Paris butter. For domestic use, anchovy fillets are packed in oil or salt in small tins or jars, sometimes rolled around capers. Anchovy paste is also available, as is anchovy essence. Anchovies are a popular pizza topping in some places. Additionally, fishermen use anchovies as fish bait for larger fish, such as tuna and sea bass.

Anchovy, Jamaica

Anchovy is a small town in the parish of Saint James in northwestern Jamaica. It is located 7 kilometres (4.3 mi) south-southwest of Montego Bay.

Anchovy paste

Anchovy paste is a fish paste food product prepared using anchovies as a primary ingredient. It is used as a condiment and as an ingredient in various dishes, such as Scotch woodcock, and is a mass-produced product. It has been used for centuries to provide flavor to foods and as a source of nutrients, and it is a part of the cuisines of Great Britain, Italy, the Philippines and Vietnam. It is a major export product of Morocco.


Bagoóng (Tagalog pronunciation: [bɐɡuˈoŋ]; Ilocano: bugguong) is a Philippine condiment partially or completely made of either fermented fish (bagoóng isdâ) or krill (bagoóng alamáng) with salt. The fermentation process also produces fish sauce known as patís.The preparation of bagoóng can vary regionally in the Philippines.


Banmian (板麵) is a popular Chinese noodle dish, consisting of handmade noodles served in soup.The name banmian (board/block noodle) came from the Hakka method of cutting the noodle into straight strands using a wooden block as ruler. In Hakka, some might call it Man-Foon-Char-Guo (麵粉茶粿) or Dao-Ma-Chet (刀嬤切).

In Hokkien, it was called Mee-Hoon-Kueh (麵粉粿; lit. "wheat snack") but what can be found at hawker stalls is generally called banmian. The current style is a mix between the traditional methods of Hakka and Hokkien. The Hakka initially made the noodle by shaving pieces off a block of dough, while the Hokkien would roll the dough into a large, flat piece that would then be torn by hand into bite-sized bits.

Banmian is a culinary dish that is popular in China, Malaysia, Singapore and Taiwan. It consists of egg noodles served in a flavorful soup, often with some type of meat or fish, vegetables and various spices. The meal is considered one of the healthier food choices and can be found for sale by restaurants, street vendors and food stalls in the region. The base of the entire meal is a soup, so there are numerous variations in ingredients, stocks and noodle shapes. In many instances, the completed soup is topped with an egg that is cooked in the hot liquid above the noodles.

Most versions of banmian use egg noodles that are simply a blend of egg, flour, water and salt that is kneaded and then formed into noodles. However, the modern day banmian is mainly made by using a pasta maker which cuts noodles in all sizes.

The base of the soup can be water but is more commonly a type of fish stock. Normal fish stock can be used, but anchovy stock is a common choice. Various ingredients, such as onions, garlic, ginger and bean paste, also can be added to the stock to provide more flavor, although some preparations are so simple that nothing more than plain stock is used. In Malaysia, dry noodles and soup are served separately.

Two common ingredients that are often found across different versions of banmian are mushrooms and anchovies. The exact type of each might vary, but they are generally added to the stock base. The mushrooms can be dried and are reconstituted in the broth, while the anchovies could be fried until crispy and then served on top of the soup. The anchovies also can be added to the stock for flavor and allowed to break down as it cooks.

Once the base stock is completed, nearly anything can be added to complete the banmian. This includes vegetables such as green onions, spinach, cabbage and bamboo shoots. Some vinegar is usually added, occasionally with sugar to balance the flavor. Restaurants may offer minced pork that has been fried or chunks of white fish to act as a protein-rich addition to the soup. Finally, an egg is cracked into the hot broth and allowed to cook until the whites are set and the yolk is warmed through.


Botok (sometimes called Bobotok in its plural form or Botok-botok) is a traditional Javanese dish made from shredded coconut flesh which has been squeezed of its coconut milk, often mixed with other ingredients such as vegetables or fish, and wrapped in banana leaf and steamed. It is commonly found in Central and East Java.Botok seems to be a byproduct of coconut milk production, to save and reuse the grated coconut flesh that might be otherwise discarded. Commonly, the grated coconut flesh flakes are discarded after squeezing it to acquire the coconut milk. However, by cooking them in banana leaf with additional mixture and spices, they can also be eaten as additional dish. Another way to save the grated coconut residue is to saute them as serundeng. Today however, to acquire tastier and richer taste, many recipe insist on using only freshly grated coconut flesh that still contains coconut milk. Botok is typically consumed with rice.

Budu (sauce)

Budu (Jawi: بودو; Thai: บูดู, RTGS: budu, pronounced [būːdūː]) is an anchovies sauce and one of the best known fermented seafood products in Kelantan, Terengganu and southern Thailand as well. It is mentioned in A Grammar and Dictionary of the Malay language, With a Preliminary Dissertation, Volume 2, By John Crawfurd, published in 1852.


Buntil is a traditional Javanese dish of grated coconut meat mixed with teri (anchovies) and spices, wrapped in papaya, cassava, or taro (or other similar aroids) leaves, then boiled in coconut milk and spices. It is a favourite dish in Java, and other than cooked homemade, it is also sold in warungs, restaurants or street side foodstalls, especially traditional temporary market during Ramadhan, prior of breaking the fast.

European anchovy

The European anchovy (Engraulis encrasicolus) is a forage fish somewhat related to the herring. It is a type of anchovy; anchovies are placed in the family Engraulidae. It lives off the coasts of Europe and Africa, including in the Mediterranean Sea, the Black Sea, and the Sea of Azov. It is fished by humans throughout much of its range.


Janchi-guksu (Korean: 잔치국수) or banquet noodles is a Korean noodle dish consisting of wheat flour noodles in a light broth made from anchovy and sometimes also dasima (kelp). Beef broth may be substituted for the anchovy broth. It is served with a sauce made from sesame oil, ganjang and small amounts of chili pepper powder and scallions. Thinly sliced jidan (지단, fried egg), gim (laver) and zucchini are added on top of the dish as garnishes.


Jemput-jemput (also called cekodok, cokodok or cucur) is a traditional Malays fritter snack in Malaysia, Brunei and Singapore that is made from flour and then fried. It is usually round in shape and tends to vary in size. There are many varieties of this snack, some using banana, anchovies or prawns, onion or maize.


Pissaladière (French pronunciation: ​[pisaladjɛʁ]; Niçard: pissaladiera [pisalaˈdjeɾɔ] or pissaladina [pisalaˈdinɔ]; Ligurian: piscialandrea [piʃalaŋˈdɾeːa]) is a dish which originated from Nice in Southern France. The dough is usually a bread dough thicker than that of the classic pizza Margherita, and the traditional topping consists of usually caramelised (almost pureed) onions, black olives, and anchovies (whole, and sometimes also with pissalat, a type of anchovy paste). Now served as an appetizer, it was traditionally cooked and sold early each morning around Nice.

The etymology of the word seems to be from the Latin piscis, which in turn became pissalat (via peis salat, "salted fish" in Ligurian and Niçard).

Ritz Brothers

The Ritz Brothers were an American comedy trio who performed extensively on stage, in nightclubs and in films from 1925 to the late 1960s.

Although there were four brothers, the sons of Austrian-born Jewish haberdasher Max Joachim and his wife Pauline, only three of them performed together. There was also a sister, Gertrude. The fourth brother, George, acted as their manager. The performers were:

Al Ritz (August 27, 1901 – December 22, 1965)

Jimmy Ritz (October 4, 1904 – November 17, 1985)

Harry Ritz (May 22, 1907 – March 29, 1986)All three brothers were born in Newark, New Jersey. The family name was Joachim (pronounced "jo-ACK-him", as Harry himself explained on a Joe Franklin TV interview), but eldest brother Al, a vaudeville dancer, adopted a new professional name after he saw the name "Ritz" on the side of a laundry truck. Jimmy and Harry followed suit when the brothers formed a team. The Ritzes emphasized precision dancing in their act, and added comedy material as they went along. By the early 1930s they were stage headliners.


Sardenaira is a pizza dish, without cheese, from the Liguria region of Italy. It is very similar to the pissaladière of Provence, France. Although termed a pizza, some consider it more akin to a focaccia.In the city of Sanremo in western Liguria, it is garnished with salted anchovies, local olives, garlic cloves and capers.It is known as sardenaira or pizza all'Andrea, after admiral Andrea Doria (1466-1560), whose favorite food was the dish: a slice of bread with olive oil, garlic, and salted anchovy.The dish predates the better-known Neapolitan pizza. Since the dish was created before the Columbian Exchange, traditionalists do not add tomatoes.

Spaghetti alla puttanesca

Spaghetti alla puttanesca (pronounced [spaˈɡetti alla puttaˈneska]; literally "spaghetti in the style of a whore" in Italian) is an Italian pasta dish invented in Naples in the mid-20th century. Its ingredients typically include tomatoes, olive oil, anchovies, olives, capers and garlic.

Vocational Guidance Counsellor

Vocational Guidance Counsellor is a Monty Python sketch that first aired on December 21, 1969 in the episode "Episode 10".The sketch is credited with creating the popular stereotype of accountants being boring. Four decades on, the Financial Times reported that it still haunts the profession.

Worcestershire sauce

Worcestershire sauce ( (listen)) is a fermented liquid condiment of complex mixture originally created in the city of Worcester in Worcestershire, England in the first half of the 19th century. The creators were the chemists John Wheeley Lea and William Henry Perrins, who went on to form the company Lea & Perrins. Worcestershire sauce legally has been considered a generic term since 1876 when the High Court of the United Kingdom ruled that Lea & Perrins did not own the trademark to "Worcestershire".Worcestershire sauce is frequently used to enhance food and drink recipes, including traditional Welsh rarebit, Caesar salad, Oysters Kirkpatrick, and deviled eggs. As both a background flavour and a source of umami (the savoury "fifth flavour"), it is also now added to dishes which historically did not contain it, such as chili con carne and beef stew. It is also used directly as a condiment on steaks, hamburgers, and other finished dishes. The sauce is also used to flavour cocktails such as the Bloody Mary and Caesar.


A zeppola (plural: zeppole; sometimes called frittelle and in Sardinia zippole (tzìpulas in Sardinian language)) is an Italian pastry consisting of a deep-fried dough ball of varying size but typically about 4 inches (10 cm) in diameter. This doughnut or fritter is usually topped with powdered sugar, and may be filled with custard, jelly, cannoli-style pastry cream, or a butter-and-honey mixture. The consistency ranges from light and puffy, to bread- or pasta-like. It is eaten to celebrate Saint Joseph's Day, which is a Catholic feast day.


A Zippula (plural: Zippuli) is fried dough from Calabria, Italy. In Calabrian cuisine, zippuli are made with fried potatoes and (sometimes) anchovies. They are also spelled zeplee and zippuile.

Though variations exist amongst some Calabrian families, the zippula dough is prepared with fresh parsley, deep-fried in a skillet, and dipped in marinara sauce when they are cooled to touch.

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