Anchovies vs. Sardines: What’s the Difference?

Anchovies and sardines are both tiny little fish that load a great deal of taste (and a great deal of health benefits) into each and every single bite. And both have actually been ignored as an ingredient, as they’ve been the butt of jokes that make them the icky ingredient punchline. But there is plenty to like about sardines and anchovies– and nuanced differences in between the 2 that make each fish worthy of a try-out.
Anchovies and Sardines Come From Different Parts of the World
While both anchovies and sardines are small baitfish that typically provide meals for larger sea animals, they tend not to populate the exact same sea waters. In basic, sardines prefer the cooler waters of the ocean, while anchovies are found in warmer seas (believe the Mediterranean), and can even flourish in fresh and brackish water.
Both of these small-but-mighty fish are reasonably plentiful in the oceans, so they’re frequently listed among the leading sustainable seafood choices.

Anchovies and Sardines Have Pretty Different Taste Profiles
Sardines are bigger and tend to have a moderate, buttery flavor while their smaller anchovy equivalents are usually much saltier and have a strong “umami” taste that adds a savory note to pasta sauces and other dishes.
Since of this difference in their taste profiles, you’ll discover that a lot of recipes call for far fewer anchovies (typically a fillet or 2) than sardines (which may require a whole can or jar).
Because their taste profiles are really various, chefs typically do not advise swapping one for the other in recipes.

Anchovies and Sardines Are Often Packaged Differently
Anchovies and sardines are canned or rattled, though if you desire to try them fresh, you’re more likely to be able to discover fresh sardines than fresh anchovies. Sardines are typically canned whole in olive oil, with their heads and skin still connected, while anchovies are generally skinned and sliced and protected in salt and oil. Anchovies are even broken down even more into a paste, which is frequently utilized as part of the base of a traditional Caesar salad dressing or pasta sauce.
When you’re buying canned or rattled sardines and anchovies, make sure that they’re crammed in olive oil, and try to find producers that provide sustainably sourced fish to help in reducing the stress on the ocean’s environment– such as Patagonia Provisions or Fishwife Tinned Seafood.

Anchovies and Sardines Both Offer Similar Health Benefits
Since they’re both oily fishes, they use much of the same nutrients– believe omega-3 fats, calcium, iron, and obviously, plenty of lean protein.

Ways to Use Anchovies and Sardines in Your Cooking
Both sardines and anchovies make terrific additions to seacuterie boards (AKA fish antipasto boards), and both anchovies and sardines can be served atop toast– like our smoked sardine toast recipe. Sardines and anchovies are also wonderful when utilized to top salads, sandwiches– and of course, pizza.

In general, you’ll discover that anchovies, due to their strong and salted flavor, play a supporting function in dishes, while sardines tend to be the star of the meal.

Attempt a few of these dishes to include sardines and anchovies to your weekly meal rotation.

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