Find out all the health benefits that these fish deliver below. We’ve also thrown in a delicious South Indian recipe for you to try!
Locally known as nethili here in India, anchovies pack a lot of flavour for fish so small. A small quantity – ideally two fish – is sufficient to flavour a cup of the very popular Caesar Salad. Find the recipe for this classic salad here. When used in small amounts, such as in the above recipe, anchovies lend a salty rather than fishy taste to the dish. They can be used similarly – in small amounts – in other recipes too such as pastas and pizzas. It is only small amounts which are required to deliver health benefits too. We’ve elaborated on these below.
The Health Benefits of Anchovies
Anchovies deliver a host of health benefits. They contain proteins, essential fatty acids and other nutrients.
The nutritional values provided here are those for 20g of anchovies or about 5 fillets. Now, what is a fillet? A fish fillet is the flesh of a fish which has been cut or sliced away from the bone by cutting lengthwise along one side of the fish parallel to the backbone. In preparation for filleting, any scales on the fish should be removed. Filleted fish is often “boneless”.
Protein: An Essential Nutrient
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get back to where we were – how much protein do anchovies yield? The given serving size has 26 calories and 4 grams of protein. Thus men get 7 percent of the recommended daily value of protein and women get 9 percent from such a serving size.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids Protect Your Heart
Known to lower the risk of heart disease and lower inflammation, omega-3 fatty acids required for the body can be obtained through the weekly consumption of 2 to 3 ounces of oily fish such as anchovies and can reduce risk of heart disease by a considerable 36 per cent. Twenty grams fish have 0.3g of omega-3 fatty acids, which provides 19% of the daily requirement for men and 27% for women. Anchovies also contain minimal mercury and are hence safe for consumption.
Calcium, magnesium and phosphorous are essential for both growth and maintenance. The serving size mentioned provides 3% daily requirement of calcium, 5% that of phosphorous and 2% that of magnesium.
Magnesium and calcium also have a role to lay in heart disease. While the latter helps heart muscles to contract, the former aids in their relaxation. Thus they maintain your heart beat and regulate blood pressure. Twenty grams of anchovies can also provide you with 19% of niacin, 4% of Vit B-12 and 2% of Vit B-6. All three of the above mentioned vitamins are essential to keep heart disease at bay.
These small fish make for a rich source of iron, which is essential for the transport of oxygen throughout the body and necessary in the production of white blood cells which provide you with immunity against bacterial attacks and the like.
Cleaning Fresh Anchovies
So you have bought your anchovies. They’re nice and fresh from the market. Now what? You’ll need to clean them thoroughly before they can be cooked or preserved. Here’s how.
1. Time is Crucial
Remember that you need to clean those anchovies as soon as you can, for these fish decompose quickly.
Don’t worry; the process is easy enough, especially once you’ve got the hang of it. Get another pair of hands to help you though if the quantity is large though.
Begin by washing your anchovies thoroughly under cold running water.
2. Scaling the Anchovies
You’ll now need to scale your fresh fish. This can be done by scraping them backwards i.e. tail to head using a butter knife. You may do this under a stream of cold running water or over a bowl of ice water.
Rinse all the fish once you’re done with scaling them.
3. Cut Behind the Head
Make a cut at an angle behind the anchovy’s head.
4. Remove the Guts
Make another diagonal cut from the middle of the first cut to the vent, which is just in front of the anchovy’s bottom fin. Remove all the guts and wash under cold water.
Your anchovies are now ready to preserve or cook.
Cooking Anchovies: Tips & Tricks
- To give a pick-me-up to any sauce you might have prepared, use about 1/8 of an anchovy (which should dissolve in the sauce) or 1/8 teaspoon of anchovy paste. It will give a piquant boost without leaving the dish tasting fishy.
- Small sardines can usually be substituted for anchovies in many recipes, but make sure they are of the same size and form (i.e., canned for canned or fresh for fresh).
Anchovies Fish Curry Recipe – Nethili Meen Curry Recipe
This delicious South Indian variant with coconut is pleasantly spicy and pairs excellently with any type of rice. The coconut lends the curry body or substance.
- Anchovies / Nethili Meen – 300 grams cleaned
- Oil – 4 tblspn
- Curry leaves a handful
- Onions – 1 large size chopped finely
- Tomatoes – 1 large chopped finely
- Green Chillies – 2 slit
- Chilli Powder – 1 tblspn or to taste
- Coriander Powder / Malli Podi – 2 tblspn
- Turmeric Powder/ Manjal Podi – 1 tsp
- Tamarind Pulp – 3 tblspn
- Water – 1/2 cup
- Salt to taste
- Coriander leaves a handful finely chopped
For the Masala:
- Fresh Coconut – 1/2 cup grated
- Ginger Garlic Paste – 1 tblspn
- Fennel Seeds / Saunf / Sombu – 2 tsp
- Grind the ingredients for masala into a smooth paste. Set aside. Dissolve tamarind with some water and set aside.
- Heat oil in a clay pot. Add curry leaves and fry for few secs.
- Add onions, chillies and salt. Saute these till they are light golden.
- Add tomatoes and cook till they become mushy.
- Add spice powders and mix. Add coconut masala and cook till oil separates out.
- Add tamarind water and cook till oil floats on top.
- Add fish and simmer for 5 to 8 mins.
- Add coriander leaves and mix well.