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The Cantabrian Anchovy

 

 

Engraulis encrasicolus

 

The anchovy is obtained through the salt curing process of fresh anchovy (Engraulis encrasicolus). Fresh anchovies are small, green fish with blue reflections, small scales and strong jaws. They live 100m under the sea and we find them mostly in the Pacific and the Atlantic Ocean, as well as in the Mediterranean and Black Sea.

Gastronomically, the ones living in the Atlantic Ocean enjoy of richer nutrients by growing in more oxygenated waters. Consequently, the ones founded in the Cantabrian Sea are the most appreciated. Cold water makes them develop a fat layer that provides them with succulent meat, more refined and delicate taste.

Fresh anchovies have a feeding process similar to whales; they filter plankton as they move forward through water. In spring and summer, when sun shines and warms water, they go up to the surface to feed and reproduce. That is when they have grown the highest level of fat in body and it is the right time to fish them by using a Spanish surface fishing called "la costera del boquerón" o "costera de primavera".

 

 

 

The salt curing process is probably the oldest way of food preservation known in Spain. It was originally founded in the Bronze Age where salt started to be commercialized as a product to preserve food. However, it was not until the third half millennium b.c., when Phoenician started to commercialize and distribute the Salt Curing process through factories all around Mediterranean coastlines. Later Rome, inheriting of this tradition, developed a better way process of salt curing to preserve fish and brought the most succulent and appreciated deli in world: THE ANCHOVY.

At the end of XIX century an Italian named Giovanni Vella Scaliota, amazed by the quality of fresh anchovies fished in the Cantabrian Sea, started a transformation of salt-curing in Santoña (Cantabria). These new improvements consisted in salt-curing the anchovy for a longer time until it got a higher level of maturity and transforming it in filets through a natural and handmade procedure. For the first tests the Italian used butter but finally chose olive oil till he created a high product quality.

CANTABRICUM has inherited the art and knowledge of salt curing from Phoenicians and Romans, and the innovations that Giovani Vela Scalita brought us centuries ago. The heritage joint to the qualities of our sea, land and climate, and new & continuous innovations give us the chance to offer one of the best Spanish deli products recognized and appreciated all over the World: The Cantabrian Anchovy.

Quality anchovies must have a malleable and solid texture; must not be wizened or curt; have a colour that goes from reddish brown to light caramel; and both aroma and flavour of olive oil, salt and fish must be equilibrated to enjoy the best deli anchovy.