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 - 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
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.
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.