Anchovy Family
California Anchovy [family Engraulidae]

Anchovies are a fairly large family of small schooling fish found in shallow coastal waters in temperate regions worldwide. Most members of this family are less than 6 inches long, though there are a few giants up to nearly 20 inches.

Anchovies are very important in the fish food chain and, despite their small size, are also very important commercially, mainly as a flavoring ingredient. Canned anchovies are used in many recipes but their most important use is in production of fermented fish sauce, as essential to the cuisines of Southeast Asia as it was to those of Imperial Rome. Anchovies are not only canned and made into fish sauce, they are also made into fish meal, fish oil, and are heavily used as bait for tuna fishing.

More on Varieties of Fish (very large page).

Blue Anchovy   -   [Encrasicholina devisi]
Whole Blue Anchovy

This Indo-Pacific fish can grow to just over 3 inches but the photo specimen, shown with a toothpick for scale, was 2-1/2 inches and weighed 0.075 ounce (that's over 200 to the pound). They are found in the Persian Gulf, the Indian Ocean and the West-Central Pacific as far southeast as Fiji and as far north as Taiwan.   Details and Cooking

California Anchovy   -   [Engraulis mordax]
Whole California Anchovy

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.   Details and Cooking

European Anchovy   -   [Engraulis encrasicolus]
Whole European Anchovy

European anchovies are found on the west coast of South Africa all the way up to Norway and in the western Mediterranean. Live they look a lot like the California anchovy but are more slender and elongated, and a bit smaller, growing to just under 9 inches. In Europe they are sold fresh, frozen, dried and salted, but are familiar to Americans in cans from Morocco. Unfortunately Morocco makes the worst anchovies in the world. Instead buy South American anchovies (in cans) or Italian anchovies (put up in jars).   Details and Cooking   Photo by Jschop distributed under license Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike v3.0 Unported.

South American Anchovies   -   [Anchovita; Engraulis ringens (Chile, Peru)   |   Argentine Anchovy; Engraulis anchoita (Brazil, Argentina)]
Peruvian Anchovy Drawing

These anchovies look very much like the European and are used similarly. They are found along the coast of Peru and about 2/3 down the coast of Chile, but exact range is dependent on the Peru Current. These fish can grow to nearly 8 inches long, but are commonly around 5-1/2 inches. These are a highly commercial catch, but are IUCN Red Listed LC (Least Concern). Chile and Peru ship canned anchovies to North America which are as good as the Italian and far better than Moroccan.

Argentine anchovies are just a little smaller and are also canned, but I've not seen them here in California. They are native from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, down to about the latitude of the Falkland Islands. They are IUCN Red Listed NE (Not Evaluated), but are not considered threatened.   Drawing by Charles Girard, copyright expired.

White Anchovy   -   [species unidentified]
Whole White Anchovy

This anchovy was acquired from an Asian market in Los Angeles. There are so many anchovy species that all look almost exactly alike, and as many without photos as with them on Fishbase, I'm not going to try to guess species or range. The photo specimen was 3-1/4 inches long and weighed about 0.1 ounce (10 to the ounce). Details and Cooking.

Japanese Grenadier Anchovy   -   [Etsu, Chousen-etsu (Japan); Ung-o (Korea); Fung mei ue (Cantonese); Chang he ji, Dao ji (Mandarin); Long Tail Anchovy (market); Coilia nasus]
Whole Japanese Grenadier Anchovy

These very large Anchovies (up to nearly 18 inches) are native to the coast of China, from Hong Kong north around the west coast of Korea and down to southwest Japan. This fish is a commercial catch throughout its range, its large size making it an attractive food fish. These are marine fish, but can tolerate fresh water and go as far as 600 miles up the Yangtze river. They are called "grenadier" in common with many other fish with a similar tapered body style. Details and Cooking.   Photo by CAFS distributed under license Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial v3.0 Unported.

Whole Goldspotted Grenadier Anchovy   -   [Mandeli, Monangu (India); Mangban (Indonesia); Coilia dussumieri]
Whole Goldsptted Grenadier Anchovy

Native to the Indo-West Pacific, this is the only species of the Grenadier Anchovies (genus Coilia) that is fished commercially in the region. It ranges along the coast from Bombay, India around to Southeast Asia, and is most prolific in Indonesian waters. It is larger than normal anchovies, up to almost 8 inches long. Primarily a marine fish, it can tolerate low salinity in estuaries. These fish are called "grenadier" in common with many other fish with a similar tapered body style. It is IUCN Red Listed NE (Not Evaluated), but is not considered threatened. Details and Cooking.   Photo by BEDO (Thailand) distributed under license Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike v4.0 International.

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