Anchovies are small, silvery fish belonging to the Engraulidae family, comprising over 140 species. Predominantly found in the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, they play a crucial role in marine ecosystems as both prey and predator.

Biology and Habitat

Their size typically ranges from 1 to 15 inches, with a slender, streamlined body designed for swift swimming. They have a distinctive long snout and a large mouth, equipped with tiny, sharp teeth. These fishes feed primarily on plankton, filtering microscopic organisms through their gill rakers.

Culinary Uses Of Anchovies

High levels of glutamate present in the fish contribute to the strong flavor. A good variety of dishes in different cuisines use the fish. In the Mediterranean Cuisine, anchovies are a staple ingredient. Popularly used in salads and as a topping for pizzas, such as the classic Neapolitan pizza. Anchovies are integral to Italian cooking. In the Philippines, they are eaten as a snack.

Nutritional Benefits

These fishes are a nutritional powerhouse, rich in protein, vitamins, and minerals. They are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are known for their heart health benefits, including reducing inflammation and lowering the risk of cardiovascular diseases. They are also high in calcium, iron, and selenium, which contribute to bone health, red blood cell production, and immune function.

Environmental Impact

Anchovies are generally considered a sustainable seafood choice. They reproduce quickly and in large numbers, making them less susceptible to over fishing compared to other fish species. However, it is important to manage their populations carefully to avoid disruptions in the marine food web.


Anchovies, despite their small size, have a significant impact on both culinary traditions and nutritional health. Their bold flavor and versatility make them a cherished ingredient in many cuisines around the world. Whether enjoyed fresh, cured, or canned, anchovies continue to be a vital part of our diets, offering both taste and health benefits.


English – Anchovies

Tamil – Nithili

Malayalam – Netholi/Chooda

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