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Apr 4, 2010 06:06 PM

Where can I buy fresh anchovies?

I'd like to try my hand at making boquerones, except I'm not sure where to find fresh anchovies. My local seafood store (Sun Fat) sometimes has fresh sardines but I haven't seen anchovies. Which seafood stores in SF sell anchovies?

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    1. re: chilihead2006

      There are no local anchovies available right now. The bait receivers in Berkeley and SF were closed as of this past Saturday. There's hope that the little guys will turn up by the end of the month, but with the El Nino weather patterns, nobody knows.

    2. Please sir, what is a boquerones,

      2 Replies
      1. re: farmertommy


        White anchovies served in vinegar (boquerones en vinagre) or deep fried.

        1. re: sosdiaz

          From this week's SF Chronicle Food and Wine [on line] Newletter:

          What is the difference between regular anchovies and white anchovies? The white are more attractive, but do they taste better?

          I wasn't sure and couldn't find a clear answer online, so I asked our resident expert Lynne Char Bennett. She, too, was unsure, so she made several calls to find the answer. Generally it's the same fish, but "regular" Italian style fillets have the bone left in and are either salted or brined. The white Spanish anchovies are cured in white wine vinegar and oil; they're generally boneless and more delicate.

          Send your culinary questions to

      2. Last year anchovies were very hard to find on the West Coast. The bait boats will start looking for them in a week or two. Try Pier 45, Keester Bait.

        1 Reply
        1. You can get them at Swan Oyster Depot. Just call to see if they have them right now.

          Swan Oyster Depot
          1517 Polk St, San Francisco, CA 94109

          1 Reply
          1. re: Fig Newton

            I keep forgetting they sell fresh fish - I go there to eat all the time!

          2. Why bother when so many high-end supermarkets and restaurants feature and sell them? For example, Andronico's markets in the East Bay sell boquerones (in vinaigrette) in the deli department and Café Madrid in downtown Oakland features them as an option on their bocadillos and will sell them separately to take home.

            And as one who used to buy "fresh" large cans of anchovies packed in salt from Italy and then cleaned and deboned them (as Marcella Hazan told me to do), it's a hellofa job and, frankly, not worth the trouble. And believe me, it's a LOT of trouble.

            11 Replies
            1. re: dlglidden

              I buy salt-packed anchovies and I don't debone. I just chop 'em up and cook and eat.

              1. re: dlglidden

                We absolutely love anchovies...we put them in just about all savory dishes. Did you know that anchovies rank at the top of food ingredients that stimulate the umami, or savory, taste response? I like eating them just on their own. We look forward to traveling one day to Cetara on the Amalfi coast, where some of the best anchovies in Italy are reportedly made. A pilgrimage, if you will.

                I'll bet home made anchovies would taste wonderful, but methinks it could be a smelly endeavor that may not be fully appreciated by the OP's neighbors. :)

                1. re: chilihead2006

                  Here's a link to the recipe for the award-winning marinated anchovies that captivated us at the 2003 Chowing with the Hounds picnic in San Francisco.

                  1. re: Melanie Wong

                    Those look very tasty indeed! I'm gonna have to try my hand at salt cured anchovies. I do a pretty mean Scottish style smoked salmon, so anchovies should be straightforward. YUM!!!

                    In June we will be in Barcelona for about 9 days and have rented a flat immediately next to La Boqueria market. Anchovy heaven!! But I digress...yet again.

                    1. re: chilihead2006

                      La Boqueria market ... PARADISE!

                      yo chilihead, if Mario still has a counter for coffee and those most amazing little morsels to munch on, please send a photo for a vicarious thrill.

                2. re: dlglidden

                  I buy them fresh about once a year and either marinated them or salt them myself. I find them TOTALLY worth the trouble, FWIW. I can control the flavor, know where they're coming from, and can do them for cheaper than I can buy them already done.

                  Swan doesn't have them in right this moment (this thread got me in the mood for them). I think the local season for them is in a month or so ... Patricia Unterman's seasonal guides show them as a May-October season.

                  1. re: Fig Newton

                    Dear Mr Fig;

                    Can you pass on a recipe for doing the anchovies your way?

                    1. re: farmertommy

                      My marinated anchovies recipe is the one that Melanie linked to above. (that link makes me feel a bit old for lots of reasons)


                      And the salted ... I use the Zuni Cafe recipe for that. I find them easy-ish if you're used to being in the kitchen, and not really smelly at all. And they taste amazing.

                      (and it's ms. fig, if you please.)

                      Zuni Cafe
                      1658 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

                      1. re: Fig Newton

                        Oh MY! My apologies Ms. Fig,

                        these salted anchovies will go nicely with some
                        fresh tomatoes from my garden I bet.

                        1. re: Fig Newton

                          It hit my funny bone this morning as Fig Newton was discussing anchovies that I thought of Newton Minow. It was a fish thing. It's is nearly 50 years since he called television a vast wasteland. Wonder what he thinks of it and the net now.

                          1. re: wolfe

                            good pun, wolfe--y! and good question. me thinks he'd be in a quandry.
                            and you?