It’s Honestly Upsetting How Good These Anchovies Are

This is Fish Party, a new series about tinned fish, friendship, and dyke domesticity. I took a long break from this series as I settled into my move from Miami to Orlando, but we’re back baby! And today, we’re slurping on anchovies, and if that phrase sounds unappealing to you, then mayhaps this is not the series for you!


In the time since I last offered up a Fish Party missive, I got engaged, and if you think I haven’t been saying “I can’t wait to be your fishwife” to my fiancé on the reg then you would be very mistaken!!!!!!!!

We have dabbled in Fishwifery before in this series, including at the very beginning with my rundown of the trendy collab between Fishwife and Fly By Jing. The best part about tinned fish company Fishwife in my personal opinion is that Autostraddle A+ members get a sweet lil discount on their products via the A+ Marketplace. Hot girls eat tinned fish and support indie queer media.

The latest Fishwife tinned product to hit the market are the company’s new Cantabrian Anchovies, hand-packed in extra virgin olive oil, sold in three packs, and boxed in a slim green and yellow case with Fishwife’s signature look. And let me tell ya…these are NOT your average grocery store anchovies!!!!! As much as it pains me to find another product I’m used to scooping up in a Publix aisle for like $2, I’m already hooked. The anchovies also meet certain markers for sustainability that a lot of grocery store brands do not. And sometimes you gotta pay a bit more for better options in that regard.

If dabbling in Fishwife has been cost-prohibitive or otherwise daunting for you, my tip is to look up to see if there are any specialty markets or grocers in your area that sell Fishwife, which you can do on the company’s website. A lot of these third-party retailers sell loosies of the product so you’re not having to commit to a three-pack. (Have I mentioned you can also join A+ and get a discount? Rule of threes says I’m allowed to plug this one more time xo.)

This was actually how I came to the new anchovies. I was admittedly skeptical about the idea of special anchovies that taste better than the various inexpensive brands I’ve depended on through the years. So I picked up a single pack to try them out when I was in Louisville visiting my sister. Shoutout to Breeze Wine Bar x Canary Club for basically being my DREAM establishment as a combination speciality grocer and natural wine shop AND bar with a tinned fish menu…I’m about to pack up my life and move to Kentucky just to become a regular. (Fellow Orlando fishheads, you can get a lot of Fishwife products including the anchovies at Deli Desires!)

These anchovies have others beat in terms of texture (almost velvety, buttery, no chewiness or crunchiness at all) and taste (rich, salty but not overly so, layered). They’re more complex flavor-wise than I’m used to when it comes to anchovies, and I immediately regretted using them for a recipe rather than just eating them on a board with bread, butter, and sliced radishes, which is what I will be doing with at least two thirds of the three-pack I ordered using my A+ membership discount (THERE WE GO, THIRD TIME’S THE CHARM).

a countertop with a cutting board, a wood spoon, a cheese grater, a Fishwife anchovy box, anchovies in their tin, a bag of uncooked fusili pasta, and a crate of garlic

I also made a simple pasta with red sauce with some leftover sauce from the freezer that I originally made with Cento anchovies.

I did sample one anchovy on its own, which is when I was blown away by that distinctly smooth texture. I feel like I could swallow these whole like a cartoon cat. After the taste test, I made a modified version of the classic caesar salad recipe on Fishwife’s website, doubling the garlic for a slightly spicier dressing and swapping radicchio for the romaine so I could do a pink salad. I do wish I had soaked the radicchio to take out some of the bite, but next time!

The star of the show here was the anchovy breadcrumbs. They’re so simple and so delicious. You basically just meld Panko and chopped anchovy fillets in a pan with olive oil and then top them with lemon zest, and my god, they are the perfect crunchy-salty-zippy bite for on top of a salad or roasted veggies or pasta!

a radicchio salad with shaved parmesan, anchovy breadcrumbs, and one full anchovy on the side

imo, all salads should be served with one loose anchovy on the side

Now, in case it was unclear, I was an anchovy fan long before these hit the market. My love of anchovies can basically be summarized by Rachel Green ordering a large anchovy pizza with chopped anchovies in the sauce (though she did this for vengeance, and I would do it merely for the taste). If you are anchovy skeptical, then these probably aren’t your thing, though I will say if you’re trying to baby-step your way into enjoying the taste, these would be a solid introduction, because the flavor, while robust, isn’t quite as in-your-face as some of the grocery store offerings are. And I think using them to make anchovy breadcrumbs could be a great way to dabble, too, as I know sometimes it’s a textural issue people have with chovies.

I definitely recommend reserving your Fishwife anchovies for recipes in which they are prominently featured (or to just eat them on their own). The cost makes it a little too extravagant to use them in things like red sauces or soup bases, but the more they’re blended into something with a lot of other flavors, the less they get to shine, too, and these are chovies that dazzle, so let them. In general, I recommend to folks wanting to start a tinned fish pantry collection to do a mix of grocery store offerings and pricier trendy options. The sauce for the pasta I served alongside this salad had been made with Cento anchovies, for example.

My next anchovy journey will be an exciting experiment where I try to make anchovy-flavored potato chips that I anticipate dipping in something creamy and garlicky just to lean into as much smelliness as possible. Stay tuned!

Before you go! Autostraddle runs on the reader support of our AF+ Members. If this article meant something to you today — if it informed you or made you smile or feel seen, will you consider joining AF and supporting the people who make this queer media site possible?

Join AF+!
Related:

Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya

Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya is the managing editor of Autostraddle and a lesbian writer of essays, short stories, and pop culture criticism living in Orlando. She is the assistant managing editor of TriQuarterly, and her short stories appear or are forthcoming in McSweeney's Quarterly Concern, Joyland, Catapult, The Offing, and more. Some of her pop culture writing can be found at The A.V. Club, Vulture, The Cut, and others. You can follow her on Twitter or Instagram and learn more about her work on her website.

Kayla has written 837 articles for us.

7 Comments

  1. Ooh! Thanks for the tip on Breeze/Canary Club. Turns out it’s about a block away from a gallery-ish thing we’re hoping to get opened up in June or so. It’s nice knowing that we’ll have that resource right down the street!

  2. Fishwife is seriously killer, I was so impressed by how much flavor was packed into a can. I usually ask for pricey food as gifts since I can’t justify it otherwise, so now I have to wait for a birthday for more. It amazed me that even the tuna was line-caught.

Contribute to the conversation...

Yay! You've decided to leave a comment. That's fantastic. Please keep in mind that comments are moderated by the guidelines laid out in our comment policy. Let's have a personal and meaningful conversation and thanks for stopping by!