In a nutshell: These Cantabrian 'Premium Edition' Anchovies are simply the best we've tried. Caught in the Spring using artisanal fishing methods in the Bay of Biscay, they are then salted in barrels before preserving in olive oil. The resulting pink and plump fillets are packed with flavour and being used by top chefs around the UK.
Great Taste 2019 2-Star Award
There are anchovies, then there are Cantabrian anchovies. Renowned worldwide for their meatiness, smooth texture and intense flavour, these superior fish have been caught off Spain's northern coast for centuries.
Arroyabe has been a standard-bearer for quality Cantabrian anchovies for more than 100 years. The fish are caught during their spring season using purse seine nets, a traditional surface-fishing method that respects marine sustainability.
Back at port, the fish are packed with salt in wooden barrels for months to allow their deep, umami-rich flavour to develop. They are then filleted and packed by hand in top-quality Spanish olive oil.
The result is oceans apart from those stringy, aggressively salty supermarket anchovies, which you would only ever consider cooking with or putting on pizzas. These are the real deal, with a smooth, beautifully balanced flavour that makes them great to eat just as they are.
The Great Taste 2019 judges said of these award-winning anchovies "Plump and juicy, lovely and large fillets. Deep long lasting flavour with hints of the sea. These are lovely anchovies with a long lasting flavour. Delicious!"
How to use:
- Serve simply on buttered slices of sourdough bread topped with a couple of anchovy fillets for a simple hors d'Oeuvres.
- Drape fillets over a vinaigrette-dressed melange of romaine or little gem lettuce, green beans, soft-boiled eggs, Arroyabe tuna and black olives for a superior salad Niçoise.
- Add strips to lamb when roasting.
Details: Available in 100g glass jars; and 50g, 80g and 345g (50 fillets) tins. A special edition 'Hansa' variety is also available in 120g tins.
For centuries, the warm waters of the Gulf Stream have shepherded shoals of tuna to the Bay of Biscay, on the 3,000-mile journey from their spawning grounds in the Sargasso Sea. And for just as long, they’ve been caught by Basque fisherman during their June-to-November season. For the past 120 years, the best of this catch has been preserved by Arroyabe, a family firm from the fishing port of Bermeo. As well as tuna, they preserve anchovies, cockles and garfish – also known as needlefish, due to their long and pointed snouts.
At each stage of the production process, Arroyabe employs production methods that would be familiar to the firm’s founders. Tuna, for example, is caught the original and best way using rod-and-line, a low-impact method that doesn’t damage the seabed or capture other species, as would happen with trawling.
As you would expect, all its products are certified as sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC).
The fish is then hand-prepared by skilful and experienced workers who carefully select the best pieces to use. Most are packed in olive oil, which enhances the fish’s smooth texture and savoury flavour. Some are packed in water, which brings down the product's calorie count, while some are packed in escabeche – a pickle sauce of oil and vinegar, a traditional method of preserving fish that was used before the advent of sterilisation.
Whichever you choose, you can be sure of the quality. For decades, Arroyabe’s seafood has been widely appreciated in its homeland, where it graces the menus of the Basque Country’s restaurants, txoko clubs and pintxo bars. Now you can enjoy it at home.