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Anchovies: Boquerones or Anchoas?

Spanish Tapas Ingredients

There's more than 100 different species of Anchovies and you can find them in temperate waters all over the world. In Spain they even have two words for this tasty little fish: "Boquerones" and "Anchoas". Both these names are in use for the same fish, except that for canned Anchovies only the word Anchoas is used (in the Catalonian language "Anxoves")

Boquerones Fritos en el FEBO, Breda. Boquerones Fritos - Deep Fried Anchovies

Anchovies are a very important ingredient in the Spanish kitchen. Fresh anchovies are fried or pickled. These "Boquerones Fritos" and "Boquerones en Vinagre" are great tapas. And then of course there's the salted Anchovy fillets, canned in oil, which with their powerful taste reinforce the impact of many dishes and pinchos!

Salted Anchovies in Oil

Canned Anchovies. Some people hate them, many of us love them. The small fish are cleaned, brined and cured. They are then oiled and laid side by side in a neat little tin can. The best quality salted Anchovies are put in real olive oil, but those canned in "ordinary" oil don't taste bad either.

Salted Anchovies have a strong, salty, oily and somewhat bitter aroma, and they deserve to be handled with respect. If after opening a can I taste a small quarter inch piece of salted Anchovy, I will experience a wonderful sensation in my mouth. However, if I would put a whole 4 inch fillet in my mouth, my tastebuds will go on strike!

Salted Anchovies are always eaten in combination with something else, and they are able to do small miracles in the process. If applied in the right quantities, salted Anchovy will act as a taste enhancer, reinforcing the best qualities of other foods without pulling too much attention to itself. Like with many things in life, it's only a matter of finding the right balance...

Anxoves de l'Escala Anxoves de l'Escala

Spanish Anchovies

In the Mediterranean, Anchovies have been caught for ages already. The Catalonian harbourtown of l'Escala, located at the Costa Brava between Barcelona and the French border, has over time developed into a major hub in the Spanish Anchovies canning industry.

Photo of fresh anchovies on ice. Anchoas - Fresh Anchovies

Another Anchovies hotspot in Spain is the provence of Cantabria, situated in the north west of Spain right at the Gulf of Biscay, where large quantities of Anchovies are brought ashore to feed the canning industry in harbour towns like Santoña, Laredo and Castro Urdiales.

Canned Anchovies from Spain are generally of a very good quality and not too expensive. The wealth of Spanish culinary culture is confirmed by the fact that in Spain you can also buy top quality canned Anchovies, from top brands, at top prices. But of course, this will also be a matter of value for money.

Anchovies Tapas Suggestions:

Photo of Basque pintxos - paprika stuffed anchovies on long bread. Basque Pintxos: Fried Anchovies Stuffed with Paprika

Pintxos Chomin Recipe: Salmon with Egg, Shrimp and Anchovies on Bread Pintxos Chomin: Salmon with Egg, Shrimp and Anchovies on Bread

Basque Pincho of Yellowfin Tuna with Onion and Anchovy on Bread Basque Pintxo Recipe: Yellowfin Tuna Salad and Anchovies on Bread

Basque Tapas Recipe for Easy Pinchos made with Salmon, Creamy Cheese and Anchovy on Long Bread Basque Pintxo Recipe: Salmon with Creamy Cheese and Anchovy on Bread

Basque Pintxos consisting of Paprika, Anchovies and Garlic on a slice of Long Bread Basque Pintxo Recipe: Paprika, Anchovies and Garlic on a slice of Bread

Spanish Gambas in Garlic Sauce. Spanish Tapas: Gambas in Garlic Sauce ("Gambas al Ajillo")

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Basque Tapas made of Tuna with Chopped Onion garnished with Anchovy on Bread.

Basque Tapas: Salmon with Egg and Mayonnaise on Bread

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Easy Tapas made of Dates with Cheese and Bacon

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Easy Pinchos made with Salmon, Cream Cheese and Anchovy on Long Bread

Easy Pinchos made with Salmon, Egg and Mayonnaise on Long Bread

Spanish Tortilla de Patata.