Pan-fried anchovy is simple to make, and makes for a nutritious and hearty snack. Anchovy is a small fatty fish which swims in schools in the Mediterranean, Black sea, North sea and in our world wide oceans.  It is a forage fish for larger predators as it is nutritious and fatty. Perhaps urban readers only know this fish as a pizza topping, but the fish is much more versatile. In this recipe we will pan-fry the anchovy in olive oil to provide for a great and nutritious meal or snack.

The art of making pan-fried anchovy

As always start with a fresh or freshly frozen fish. Anchovies are relatively cheap fish, yet in some urbanized areas difficult to come by. This is unfortunate as this fish is so delicious! Ensure the bellies have been cleaned before working with the fish.

If using, thaw frozen fish and dry the fish on kitchen paper and then lightly salt the fish by sprinkling sea or table salt over the fish. Thereafter coat each fish by turning in starch powder (tapioca, corn,  potato) before pan-frying at medium temperature in your preferred oil. I normally use olive oil, but also sunflower and rape seed oil have been used. Turn each fish (I use chop sticks) after a few minutes when golden brown. Remove the fish and let drain on kitchen paper before serving on a pre-heated serving platter. When eating with chop sticks, take the fried fish by the head and eat all but the head. But by all means eat the head as well. You will eat (almost) the entire fish including the minerals from the bones.

Special equipment

  • skillet with heavy bottom
©️ Nel Brouwer-van den Bergh

Pan-fried Anchovy

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 6 minutes
Total Time 21 minutes
Course Appetizer, Dinner, Lunch, Side Dish
Cuisine Spanish


All ingredients

  • 1 lb (450 g) fresh or frozen anchovies
  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil neutral tasting oil or olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper optional
  • 4 tbsp starch tapioca, potato, corn etc


Preparing the anchovies

  • Thaw frozen fish by rinsing under cold water or rinse fresh fish
  • Dry fish on kitchen paper
    ©️ Nel Brouwer-van den Bergh
  • Salt the fish by sprinkling with sea or table salt. Optionally sprinkle with some ground peppercorns too.
  • Prepare a plate with starch powder and coat the fish with a thin layer of starch

Pan-frying of the anchovies

  • Heat the vegetable oil in a skillet
  • Place each fish in the skillet and fry on one side until golden (some 3 minutes
  • When golden, turn the fish and fry the other side for 3 minutes. Times increase when thicker (and longer) fish is used.
  • Take the fish out of the skillet and let drain on kitchen paper before serving on a pre-heated plate.
    ©️ Nel Brouwer-van den Bergh


Method: pan-frying
Food allergy & intolerance information: fish
Keyword anchovies, anchovy, pan-fried


  1.  Keep fish always on ice or frozen. Do not re-freeze
  2.  Lovely with a slice of ciabatta or other white bread

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