California Anchovy
Whole California Anchovy [Engraulis mordax]

This anchovy is found from the Canadian border to the tip of Baja California. They can grow to 9-3/4 inches and weigh 2.4 ounces, but the photo specimen was 5-3/4 inches and weighed 0.7 ounce. Longer and a bit chunkier than most anchovies, the California anchovy is used mostly for fishmeal and tuna bait, but is also sold fresh here in California, and is just occasionally canned.

More on Anchovies.

Buying:   These anchovies are often found sold on ice in fish markets serving a Southeast Asian, particularly Filipino, community. They may also be available frozen.

Cooking:   Fresh Anchovies are generally eaten fried as an appetizer, head and tail on, head off, or filleted.

Filleting:   These fish are very easy to fillet but a bit tedious to get to the filleting point. for 5-1/2 inch fish, 2.9 ounces yielded 1.5 ounces of fillet (52%). For efficiency do each step on all the fish before going on to the next step.

  1. Scale the fish using a delicate scraping instrument such as the back edge of your filleting knife. If some skin scrapes off don't worry about it.
  2. With kitchen shears cut off the tail, then cut off the head diagonally just behind the collar. Pull the head off with the pectoral fins just behind it, taking the innards with it.
  3. With your filleting knife slit the belly back to the pelvic fins.
  4. Pinch off the pelvic fins and pull out the anal fin. With this delicate a fish you shouldn't need to make any cuts to do this. Check the body cavity and rinse out any remaining innards or membranes.
  5. Set the fish on its back and, starting near the tail end, flatten it out, leaving the backbone standing between the sides. Grasp the backbone near the tail end and pull it out of the fish. Do not worry about the hair-like ribs, they'll disappear with cooking or processing.
  6. Fold the halves back together, and holding the fish from the sides, pull out the dorsal fin.
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