China Anchovy
Whole China Anchovy [Gray Anchovy (market); Cá Com Than (Viet); Stolephorus chinensis]

This West Pacific fish can grow to 3.5 inches but the photo specimen was 2-3/4 inches. A tray of 70 weighed 14 ounces, 0.2 ounces each, or 80 to the pound. They are found mainly in the South China Sea, from Borneo north to Taiwan and around the Philippines, and west around the Malay Peninsula. Color stripes (wide silver with narrow dark above) is like the Blue Anchovy, but this one is larger with a bigger eye and different shaped face.

More on Anchovies.

Fried China Anchovies

Buying:   These can sometimes be found in the freezer cases of large Asian markets. The photo specimen, from Vietnam, was purchased from a large Asian market in Los Angeles (San Gabriel) for 2016 US $2.62 per pound. It was from a frozen batch packed on a foam tray sealed in a plastic bag, 14 ounces.

Cooking:   Clearly you are not going to be filleting this fish except under a microscope. This is a fish to fry crisp and eat "head guts and feathers" - not an exact fit to the the delicate sensibilities of the baby spinach set.

  1. Heat oil for deep fry - it doesn't have to be really deep for these fish. I fry in an Indian Kadhai, which has the best geometry for keeping oil in the pan, not on the stove.
  2. Rinse the fish and drain thoroughly in a strainer.
  3. Mix salt to taste with rice flour or sweet potato flour. Dump fish and flour into a paper bag and shake the bag until fish are evenly coated.
  4. Pour the fish out into a strainer and shake the strainer over a plate until as much flour as is going to fall off falls off.
  5. Fry fish in batches that don't crowd the pan. Use a durable oil like Olive Pomace at about 375°F/190°C. Fry until crispy and lightly colored (exact color will depend on the type of flour you use). You can tell they're done when the amount of sizzling declines.
  6. Serve with a liquid dipping sauce and/or lemon wedges. Anchovies are strong flavored fish, so a dip with fairly intense flavor is good, with maybe a touch of sweetness to counter the slight bitterness of the fish.
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