27 May #howisitmade Anchovies of the Cantabrian Sea



The anchovy

The anchovy (engraulis encrasicolus) is a long and thin fish with a cleft mouth and a pointy snout. It is silver coloured in the belly and blue-grey on the sides. The most common measure is around 13.5 centimeters long.

Origin of the Anchovy of the Cantabrian Sea :

The anchovy is captured in the Bay of Biscay ( FAO 27 – VIII C) North of Spain.

Before the fishing season starts, experts make a sampling to check if the size of the fish is appropriate. The fishing starts in April and finishes in June, it coincides with the spring season, when the anchovy goes near the coast to complete its reproductive cycle.

Fishermen sail early in the morning during 3-4 hours and create a circle with several boats wherever the anchovy bank is. They throw the nets in the sea and all the boats drive in circles until the nets are closed and pick up the nets full of fish. This type of fishing is known as purse-seine catch, highly respectful with species and marine ecosystem. It is certified as sustainable fishing by the MSC (Marine Stwardship Council).


Elaboration of the Anchovy of the Cantabrian Sea :

The anchovies are transported into the factory and submitted to anisakis prevention treatment. Then they are hand eviscerated and put into barrels in layers of fish and salt. They will stay in the barrels curing for two years. The anchovies are hand washed and hand rolled in cloths to be dried by means of centrifugation. When anchovies are dry the ‘’sobadoras’’ pack the anchovies. This job is considered an art, a tradition that women have been passing down through generations. Each anchovy is cleaned by hand one by one, eliminating any remaining fishbones or scales. Then they pack the anchovy in layers,  putting inside a small piece of paper with the name of the ‘’sobadora’’ who made the tin. The perfectly packed tins are filled in with olive oil and sealed and packed into Olmeda Origenes boxes.

You can watch how they are made by clicking on the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YzeFVrtJ8mc&t=63s

Benefits :

Each anchovy fillets has only 8 calories and they are high in protein. They are helpful to prevent cholesterol and contribute to strengthen the bones due to their high content in Vitamin C and calcium.

Recetas con anchoa del Cantábrico :

Due to its versatility the anchovy can be consumed almost in any combination, taking it as it is or used as an ingredient in the elaboration of dishes. It is ideal to make ”tostas”: a base of crispy toasted bread, olive oil, tomato (grounded or sliced) and an anchovy on top. You can add a white anchovy to create ”Tosta Matrimonio”. Another ”tosta” can be a base of bread, avocado, cheese, one anchovy and nuts as a topping. Anchovies can be added to crisps, combined with white anchovies on a plate, added to pizzas, grounded to make ‘tapenade’, added to pasta, salad, endives, piquillo pepper salad, grounded to use as stuffing for pie, pincho ”banderilla” putting some olives, baby onions, Basque chilli and an anchovy in a toothpick. Anchovies can be also used in the elaboration of sauces to accompany fish, artichokes or any vegetable.