What is an anchovy?

Anchovies are sometimes used in Caesar salad dressings.

The bluefish is a species of oceanic fish that is found in a wide variety of environments. It has been a popular food source for humans since Roman times, when fish was used in a wide variety of dishes, including a fermented fish sauce called garum. Anchovies are a dark, oily fish that some consumers are very fond of in salads and pizzas, while other consumers conditioned to lighter fish despise the humble anchovy.

Anchovies are small, oily fish.

The anchovy, related to the herring, is a small, silvery fish with a greenish hue. The bluefish rarely exceeds 12 centimeters in length. Anchovies travel in large schools of fish, making them easy to catch for human and animal predators. Bluefish generally feed on plankton and in turn provide forage for a wide variety of marine species, some of which follow schools of anchovies to ensure a consistent source of nutrition. A school of anchovies can be an incredible sight when traveling close to the surface, with sunlight shining from thousands of fish.

Anchovy fishing is now regulated to prevent overfishing.

As anchovies have been heavily fished for centuries, some fish stocks are at risk. With the advent of commercial trawling, scientists began to realize that the anchovy faced an environmental crisis and recommended that controls be put in place over the anchovy fishery before it was too late. As a result, many nations have begun to regulate bluefish fishing more closely, well aware of the result of overfishing a species of king pine that feeds several larger predatory fish.

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Due to the mercury levels in anchovies, pregnant women are generally advised to limit their consumption of fish.

Anchovies are most often eaten pickled, and the fish are often salted or packed in oil so they can be used year-round. Anchovies are sometimes found packed with salt, in which case they must be soaked and rinsed before consumption. Fish are preserved with the bones intact because they are small and tender enough to be eaten with the fish and the size of the anchovies is such that fillets are not realistically possible. Anchovies are also delicious, fresh, and often appear grilled, wrapped in food, or mixed into pasta sauces.

Anchovy is somewhat unfairly maligned by consumers because the fish is actually high in healthy omega-3 acid and the dark flesh doesn’t carry as much mercury as many species of white meat. Anchovies offer a distinct and complex flavor that can be an excellent addition to many Mediterranean dishes, where fish has been popularly integrated for centuries. Courageous consumers can also eat canned fish directly for the health benefits, although anchovies taste better when seasoned with other foods.

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