Anchovy facts for kids
An anchovy is a small, common forage fish of the family Engraulidae. Most species are found in marine waters, but several will enter brackish water and some in South America are restricted to fresh water.
The more than 140 species are placed in 17 genera; they are found in the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans, and in the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. Anchovies are usually classified as oily fish.
The anchovy is a small green fish with blue reflections. These reflections are due to a silver stripe that runs along the length of the fish from the base of the caudal fin.
Its maximum length is nine inches and the body shape varies with more slender fish in northern populations. The snout is blunt with small, sharp teeth in both jaws. It eats plankton and fish larvae.
As a food source
It is also extremely important to marine mammals and birds; for example, California brown pelicans and elegant terns. The breeding success of these birds is strongly connected to anchovy abundance. As time progresses and the anchovy population drops, the population of the predatory species are also expected to decline.
Today they are a key ingredient in Caesar salad and Spaghetti alla Puttanesca, and are often used as a pizza topping. Because of the strong flavor they are also an ingredient in several sauces, including Worcestershire sauce and many fish sauces, and in some versions of Café de Paris butter.
They are most commonly marketed in small tins, either as "flat" filets, or as "rolled anchovies" where each fillet is rolled around a caper. Both are quite salty. The flat fillets are usually more salty than the rolled anchovies. They are also marketed in jars and tubes as a paste, mostly for use in making sauces, such as anchovy essence.
The strong taste that people associate with anchovies is due to the curing process. Fresh anchovies, known in Italy as alici, have a much softer and gentler flavor. In English-speaking countries, alici are sometimes called "white anchovies", and are often served in a weak vinegar marinade.
This particular preservation method is associated with the coastal town of Collioure in south east France. The white fillets are sold in heavy salt, or the more popular garlic or tomato oil and vinegar marinade packs.
The European anchovy is the anchovy of commerce. Morocco now leads the world in canned anchovies. The anchovy industry along the coast of Cantabria is now much larger than the traditional Catalan salters, though the industry was only started in Cantabria by Sicilian salters in the mid 19th century.
Images for kids
An ancient garum factory, Baelo Claudi, Spain
Anchovy Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.