Anchovies in olive oil
Anchovies in olive oil © Turismo de Cantabria
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Marinated anchovies are always a delicacy, but particularly when they are preserved in extra virgin olive oil. These anchovies are prepared using painstaking traditional methods.
The anchovies are placed inside containers with water and salt for between one and three days. The heads and innards are removed, and the fish are separated by size and arranged in alternating layers of salt and anchovies, finishing with a layer of salt. This is takes place on the day the fish are caught. They are then left for between six and eight months, during which time they gradually lose water and fat and absorb salt, and take on the characteristic colour, aroma and flavour associated with anchovies. After this time, they are taken out of their containers and individually washed, and the skin and backbone are removed, leaving the fillets completely clean. Finally they are placed in tins or glass jars, which are then filled with oil.
The best anchovies are firm and flexible to the touch, with a colour ranging from reddish brown to light caramel, and an aroma and flavour in which there is a perfect balance of oil, salt and fish.
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- The anchovy fishing season is during March, April May and June, which is when they have the highest oil content.
- The Cantabrian anchovy (engraulis encrasicholus) is a species which is only found in the region of Cantabria. The most famous preserved anchovies come from Santoña, Laredo and Castro Urdiales.