The etiquette rules on how to serve and eat anchovies. Tips to be the ideal host or the perfect guest and avoid any embarrassment.

What anchovies etiquette is

Anchovies etiquette is the set of rules to properly serve and eat anchovies. Such rules help avoid behaviors that can disrespect your hosts or guests, or make you look unpolite.

If you are hosting, follow the etiquette to serve anchovies to your guests appropriately.

As a guest, respect the etiquette rules to properly eat anchovies at the dining table and avoid offending your hosts or embarrassing yourself.

how to serve and eat anchovies

What you should know about anchovies

Anchovies are small saltwater fish that belong to the Engraulidae family.

Anchovies are small and slender fish that are typically grayish-green in color. They have a soft texture and a strong, pungent flavor.

Etiquette rules to serve and eat anchovies

1) How to store anchovies

The ideal temperature to store anchovies is between 32-38°F (0-3°C). To store anchovies in the pantry, you can keep them in an airtight container. In the fridge, you can store them in their original packaging or in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. In the freezer, you can store them for up to 6 months in an airtight container or freezer bag.

Store cooked anchovies in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

2) How to clean anchovies

To clean anchovies, rinse them under cold water and pat them dry with a paper towel. There are no major risks associated with cleaning anchovies. You do not need any special tools to clean them.

You can tell when anchovies have turned bad if they have a sour or rancid odor or if they are slimy to the touch.

3) How to prepare & cook anchovies

You can eat anchovies raw or cooked. To prepare anchovies for cooking, you can remove the head and guts and rinse them under cold water. You can use a sharp knife or scissors to cut them into fillets. Common ways to cook anchovies include grilling, sautéing, or frying. You can use a variety of utensils and appliances to prepare and cook anchovies, including knives, scissors, frying pans, and grills.

Popular dishes with anchovies include Caesar salad, pizza, pasta puttanesca, and tapenade.

You can use anchovies in salads and sandwiches. You can also use them to make sauces, such as Worcestershire sauce. Anchovies are not suitable for guests that are on a vegan diet, but they are suitable for guests that are on a keto or paleo diet.

4) How to serve & present anchovies

Anchovies are appropriate for a variety of occasions, including formal and informal meals. You can serve them for brunch or as a snack too. Anchovies can be served as a side dish, main course, or appetizer.

The most polite way to serve anchovies to your guests is on a small plate or dish. The ideal serving temperature for anchovies is cool, but not too cold. You can use a variety of serving tools, including forks, spoons, and small plates.

Anchovies can be accompanied by a variety of foods, including bread, olives, and roasted vegetables. Seasonings and accompaniments can include lemon juice, garlic, and olive oil.

5) Food and wine to pair anchovies with

Anchovies pair well with a variety of flavors, condiments, spices, and herbs, including capers, garlic, and oregano. They pair well with vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers, and onions. They do not pair well with sweet fruits, such as mango or pineapple.

Anchovies can be paired with some cheeses and dairy, such as parmesan cheese and butter. They do not pair well with creamy cheeses or milk.

Anchovies pair well with some meats, such as beef and chicken. They do not pair well with pork or lamb. Anchovies also pair well with some fish, such as salmon and tuna. They do not pair well with white fish, such as cod or tilapia.

Anchovies pair well with dry, crisp white wines like Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, and Albariño. For red wines, light and fruity reds like Beaujolais and Pinot Noir are good options. Avoid pairing anchovies with heavy, tannic red wines like Cabernet Sauvignon. Rosé wine, sparkling wine, and beer also work well with anchovies.

6) How to eat anchovies

The most polite etiquette to eat anchovies is to use a fork and knife, separating the fillets from the bones if necessary. On informal occasions, it is also acceptable to eat them with your fingers, but be sure to discard the bones and any other inedible parts.

Anchovies etiquette: the worst mistakes

The Rude Index identifies and ranks negative behaviors. 

A high score (8-10) means that the behavior has the potential to trigger a conflict with others. A medium score (4-7) means that the behavior risks making you look inelegant and unsophisticated. Read more about the Rude Index and its methodology here.  

Avoid the most common anchovies etiquette mistakes:

  • 7/10. Not properly removing the bones.
  • 5/10. Presenting anchovies in a way that is unappetizing to guests.

Additional information for properly serving anchovies

How many calories per serving?

Counting calories is important to stay healthy and correctly plan a menu.

A single anchovy contains around 7 calories, while a serving of 10 anchovy fillets contains around 70 calories. In 100 grams of anchovies, there are approximately 210 calories.

How to buy the best anchovies

A crucial factor in anchovies etiquette is serving your guests the best product possible.

Season and availability 

Anchovies are available all year round. The best season to buy fresh anchovies is typically from spring to early fall.

Choose the best

Anchovies can be found in commerce in several forms, including fresh, canned, and dried. Canned anchovies are the most common and can be found in most grocery stores.

The most popular varieties of anchovies in commerce include the Mediterranean anchovy, the Cantabrian anchovy, and the South American anchovy. The Cantabrian anchovy is considered the most prized.

When buying anchovies, look for fillets that are firm and plump, with a bright silver color and a fresh, salty aroma. Avoid anchovies that are discolored, slimy, or have a strong fishy odor.

Alternatives to anchovies

Some common alternatives to anchovies include fish with a similar taste profile, such as sardines or herring. For cooking, you can substitute the aroma of anchovies with Worcestershire sauce, capers, soy sauce, and fish sauce. These ingredients can provide a similar umami flavor to dishes without the use of anchovies.


  • Study on anchovies and their survival: