Le anchovies, silvery e sparkling, they are small fish rich in history and tradition. They represent a precious treasure of the seas and are one of the most popular varieties of oily fish in Italy. Fresh anchovies can be pan-fried 'scattiate' or 'nchiappate' and al Catalan-style oven, while the version in oil can be used as a condiment to prepare appetisers, first and second courses. Legend has it that anchovies They were once not fish but rather somewhat petulant stars and, because of their constant chattering, God threw them into the sea. Since then, the anchovies, whenever they see the light of the lampara lamps on the fishermen's boats, confusing them with the lights of the firmament, rise to the surface to rejoin the sky but, for all of them, the dream always ends up in the fishing boats' nets.

Anchovies or anchovies? characteristics and curiosities

Anchovies belong to the engraulids, are very disseminated at all the Mar Mediterranean and are also called anchovies. The two terms are synonymous and the only difference is in size: anchovies are i fishes plus young e smaller in size while the anchovies are i fishes adults larger. Anchovies, or rather anchovies, are often confused with sardines even though they are different both in colour and size. Anchovies are no bigger than 18/20 cm and have golden hues while sardines reach 25 cm and have reddish hues.

Anchovy fishing takes place between March and August during the spawning period, when schools of fish approach the coast. Anchovies are fished using the traditional method based on the use of lampare. On nights when there is no full moon, fishermen light the lampara lamps on their boats and illuminate a portion of the sea to attract the anchovies to the surface and trap them in the nets.

Le anchovies between history e legends


Le anchovies have a history millennial: the their fishing takes place fin from antiquity and the first writings recipes with anchovies date back to ancient Greece. At that time, Mediterranean peoples used a paste made with anchovies, called garon, to season various preparations. The same sauce was also used in ancient Rome as seasoning by dishes a base by meat, chicken, lamb and vegetables. This pasta, which the Romans called gorum, si obtained by fermenting the innards of poor fish seasoned with salt and spices.


Anchovies are also the protagonists of fascinating legends. Yes narrates, in fact, that anchovies were once of stars so talkative annoying that disturbed the moon and God the punished hurling them at fund at sea. Another version says that they were thrown into the sea by the moon, envious of their light. Once at sea, the anchovies kept the colour silvery of stars, but they remained silent forever and with the desire to return to shine in the sky.

The singer-songwriter Fabrizio De Andrè in one of his songs 'anchovies make the ball' was inspired by this popular legend that in his city, Genoa, is handed down from generation to generation. The song is a poem about the sad fate of anchovies that spend their lives trying not to be devoured by the albacore (the tuna fish), forming the famous balloon or chasing a light that can take them back to the sky. Their journey always ends in the nets of fishermen who are acclaimed by De Andrè as fishermen of stars, dreamers who know how to listen to the voice of the sea.

Anchovies or anchovies? The most famous

The most famous anchovies in the world are those fished in the Cantabrian Sea, the sea that washes the northern coast of Spain. In Italy, the most famous anchovies are the Meniaca anchovies, a Slow Food Presidium, and the colatura di alici di Cetara. Both Italian specialities are produced in Campania.

Anchovies of Cantabrian

The story of the Cantabrian anchovies is Italian and was made by a Sicilian, Giovanni Vella Scatagliota. Leaving Sicily at the end of the First World War and arriving in Spain like thousands of other Italians, he found himself in front of an incredible sight that would change his life: the sea was full of anchovies. Giovanni, together with other Italians, decided by move at these ribs bringing with it the technique by salting used in Sicily. Le ideas by John were thus revolutionary whichtransformed fully this sector. Even today, the processing and production of Cantabrian anchovies è handmade as it was then.

Le anchovies of Cantabrian are averagely plus great by those of Mediterranean, are fishing onlybetween March e end June and are plus fleshy, tasty e tasty.

The Anchovies of Menaica 

Le anchovies by Menaica instead are produced at Municipality by Pisciotta e in the countries of Thereslow. Fishing is done at days by sea quiet, between April e July with the Meniaca, a particular network selecting anchovies at base at size, capturing the plus great e leaving pass the smaller. After capture from the meshes of the net, one by one, detaching the heads and removing the entrails. They are then placed in wooden crates for transport, then washed in brine and placed in terracotta jars, alternating layers of salt ready for curing.

Once ready, they can be eaten fresh or pickled, raw or cooked. Anchovies seight halls have acolour which curtains at rose and a perfume intense e delicate.

Cetara anchovy sauce

Also produced in Campania is the casting by anchovies by Cetara, a salsa liquid produced from ripening of anchovies at a solution by water e salt.

Le anchovies employees to prepare the casting by anchovies by Cetara are fishing in the near of CoastalAmalfitana at period which goes from end March up to a half July and è the version modern of garum ofancient Romans.

Freshly caught anchovies have their heads and entrails removed and are kept for 24 hours in containers with plenty of sea salt. They are then transferred to small barrels alternating layers of salt and covered with a wooden disc on which weights are placed. As a result of the pressure and maturation of the fish, liquid rises to the surface. All the liquid collected is poured back into the barrels with the anchovies and slowly poured through a hole, between the layers of fish, in order to further collect the flavour. It is finally filtered through linen cloths, stored and brought to market ready for consumption.

Cetara colatura is typically used to season pasta but also to flavour fish or vegetable dishes.

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How do you cook fresh anchovies?

Le anchovies at Catania, Sicilian typicality

Ingredients for 4 persons

  • 800 g anchovies
  • 50 g pitted green olives
  • 50 g white wine
  • 50 g extra virgin olive oil
  • 40 g pine nuts
  • 30 g breadcrumbs
  • half a lemon
  • salt and black pepper to taste


Clean e wash carefully the anchovies, delete the bones e far drip for well i fish. In a bowlinsert the chopped olives, pine nuts, breadcrumbs, vinegar, EVO oil, fine salt and black pepper. Brush a baking tray with EVO oil and arrange a first layer of open anchovies; on the anchovies place the mixture and the thinly sliced lemon. Insert another layer of anchovies and the mixture, a sprinkling of breadcrumbs and a drizzle of EVO oil. Bake in a 200 degree ventilated oven for 15 minutes.

Baked anchovies from Catania

Anchovies 'nchiappate, typical of Campania

Ingredients for 4 persons

  • 500 g anchovies
  • 100 g grana-type cheese
  • 50 g goat cheese
  • 3 eggs
  • fresh parsley to taste
  • flour q.b.
  • extra virgin olive oil and fine salt to taste

Ingredients for the sauce:

  • 250 g peeled tomatoes
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • olive oil qb
  • fine salt to taste


In a high-sided pan, make fry at oil olive one clove garlic, add i peeled tomatoescrushed, a pinch by salt and parsley. Cook for approx. 15 minutes a fire slow. After the time is up, turn off the heat and remove the garlic.

Clean and wash the anchovies thoroughly, remove the bones and drain the fish thoroughly. In a bowl, place the cheeses together with an egg, a pinch of salt and the chopped fresh parsley. Mix the ingredients until smooth. Fill each open anchovy with the mixture and then cover it with another anchovy. Dip each stuffed anchovies in flour, then egg and breadcrumbs and fry them. Once all the anchovies have been fried, place them in the pan with the sauce and cook for 5 minutes.

Snapped anchovies, a Calabrian typicality

Ingredients for 2 persons

  • 300 g anchovies
  • 50 g extra virgin olive oil
  • 25 g vinegar
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • fine salt
  • sweet and hot chilli powder to taste
  • dried oregano q.b.


Clean the anchovies, cap and gut them without removing the bones and without opening them in half. Wash them well under water and pat them dry with paper towels. Place the EVO oil in a frying pan and arrange the anchovies close together across the entire width of the bottom of the pan. Add the garlic cloves, adusting by chilli spicy, a dusting by chilli sweet, salt, a generous sprinkling of oregano and a bay leaf. Cook them over medium heat, taking care never to turn them, for about seven minutes. Then turn the anchovies and cook for a further 5 minutes. When they are cooked, splash the vinegar over the anchovies and allow it to evaporate completely. it is at this moment that the 'snap' caused by the splashing of the vinegar from which the recipe takes its name takes place. 

Anchovies anchovies typical Calabrian recipe

Anchovies in oil, how to use them

Anchovies in oil can be used to make various dishes, from appetisers to pizza.

Hors d'oeuvres: bread croutons spread with butter and accompanied by a drizzle of chard and anchovies or bread croutons with potato and leek cream and anchovies.

First courses: pasta with anchovy sauce, sun-dried tomatoes and baked black olives or stroncatura calabrese.

Main courses: courgette and anchovy omelette or artichokes stuffed with breadcrumbs and anchovies

Pizza: pizza with mozzarella, flowers by pumpkin, sun-dried tomatoes and anchovies or pizza tomato, grilled courgette, olives and anchovies.