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any small, marine, herringlike fish of the family Engraulidae, especially Engraulis encrasicholus, found in the Mediterranean Sea, often preserved in oil and used in salads, spreads, etc., or packaged in paste form.
Contemporary Examples

Mix thoroughly and taste; depending on the saltiness of the anchovy and capers, more salt may be desired.
How Top Chefs Stay Thin Rachel Syme December 14, 2009

Pan-Roasted Asparagus With Fried Eggs and anchovy Bread Crumbs.
Fresh Picks Jamie Bissonnette August 23, 2011

Lay in the anchovy fillets, and place over very low heat until they melt, falling apart when the pan is shaken.
Alice Waters’ Favorite Vineyard Sophie Menin August 13, 2010

Plus Sifton shares two of his favorite recipes: cranberry sauce and roasted cauliflower with anchovy bread crumps.
Sam Sifton’s Thanksgiving Tips Katie Baker October 31, 2012

Using a rasp, zest the meyer lemon into the bowl and add the chopped herbs, anchovy, capers and a few grinds of black pepper.
How Top Chefs Stay Thin Rachel Syme December 14, 2009

Historical Examples

The simplest way to prepare this is to toast white bread cut in strips, then spread each with butter and essence of anchovy.
Suppers Paul Pierce

Fillet a sole and interlard each piece with a bit of anchovy.
The Cook’s Decameron: A Study in Taste: Mrs. W. G. Waters

Mix some gravy with an anchovy, a sprig of sweet herbs, an onion, and a little mushroom liquor.
The Cook and Housekeeper’s Complete and Universal Dictionary; Including a System of Modern Cookery, in all Its Various Branches, Mary Eaton

Garnish each fillet with a Spanish olive stuffed with anchovy.
The Cook’s Decameron: A Study in Taste: Mrs. W. G. Waters

Welsh rabbit on anchovy toast with a poached egg and two strips of broiled bacon on top.
The Hotel St. Francis Cook Book Victor Hirtzler

noun (pl) -vies, -vy
any of various small marine food fishes of the genus Engraulis and related genera, esp E. encrasicolus of S Europe: family Clupeidae (herrings). They have a salty taste and are often tinned or made into a paste or essence

1590s, from Portuguese anchova, from Genoese or Corsican dialect, perhaps ultimately from either Latin apua “small fish” (from Greek aphye “small fry”) [Gamillscheg, Diez], or from Basque anchu “dried fish,” from anchuva “dry” [Klein, citing Mahn].


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