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 (large page).


Blue Anchovy   -   [Encrasicholina devisi]
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]
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]
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 Alessandro Duci contributed to public domain.

South American Anchovies   -   [Engraulis ringins (Chili, Peru), Engraulis anchoita (Argentina)]
These anchovies look very much like the European and are used similarly. Chili and Peru ship canned anchovies to North America which are as good as the Italian and far better than Moroccan. Argentine anchovies are also canned but I've not seen them here in California.

White Anchovy   -   [species unidentified]
Whole Fish

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.

Long Tail Anchovies   -   [Grenadier Anchovies; Coilia species]
Anchovies

These Indo-Pacific anchovies range from the coasts of India to the East China Sea, possibly as far north as Korea. They are called "grenadier" in common with many other fish with a similar tapered body style. They are a bit larger than normal anchovies and are often filleted, fried and canned. Details and Cooking.   Drawing from efishalbum.com.

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