Where to Buy Anchovies and How to Choose Them

Fresh Anchovies Are Hard to Find, But Other Forms Are Available

Fresh raw european anchovies on ice
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Anchovies are small fish that are boned, cured in salt and packed in oil. This is how most people buy them, both because they are easier to find and also much easier to handle. Finding fresh anchovies is a challenge for two main reasons: There is not much demand, and anchovies are highly perishable. 

Where to Buy Anchovies

Canned anchovies, packed in oil and salt-cured, both whole and fillets, are readily available in 2-ounce cans in most grocery stores and supermarkets.

Salted anchovies can usually be found in Italian markets.

How to Select Fresh Anchovies

If you do find them fresh, don't expect them to be unblemished. The flesh is very soft and bruises easily. Use your nose to help judge freshness. When anchovies start to spoil, they smell extremely bad. As with any fresh fish, also look for bright eyes.

Anchovy Paste

Since most recipes only call for a tablespoon, if that, anchovy paste has become popular. It comes in a tube, which makes it easy to squirt out small amounts. Be aware that anchovy paste also contains added vinegar, spices, and water.

How to Cook With Anchovies

Many people have a deep aversion to these tiny fish. Maybe you had pizza with anchovies and were underwhelmed, or worse. Maybe just the smell of them when someone who actually loves anchovies (a rarity) opens a tin of them and you are bowled over by the scent. These experiences could be lifetime turn-offs.

 

But in truth, many people love foods that have anchovies in them; two that come to mind are Caesar and green goddess salad dressing. So opening your mind a bit might be a good thing. Here are some ways to use anchovies without pain, courtesy of the Huffington Post.

  • Classic Caesar salad with romaine lettuce, croutons, shredded Parmesan cheese and Caesar salad dressing
  • Pissaladiere, a thin pizza-like dish from Provence topped with anchovies, onions and black olives
  • Pasta with roasted red pepper sauce flavored with anchovies
  • Spinach salad with avocado green goddess dressing
  • Green salad with vinaigrette accented with anchovies
  • Spaghetti with shallots, sage, lemon and anchovies
  • Anchovy onion butter on garlic toast
  • Linguine with breadcrumbs and anchovy sauce
  • Fish stew with anchovy pesto

Cookbooks

  • "Olives, Anchovies and Capers"
  • "The New Legal Seafoods Cookbook"
  • "Fish: The Complete Guide to Buying and Cooking"
  • "Go Fish: Fresh Ideas for American Seafood"