When it comes to fish, the smaller the better
Find these little guys at some grocery stores, fish markets, and Asian markets. If you live near a coastal town, head to the
docks—fresh anchovies and smelt are often sold as bait. Look for fish with bright eyes, shiny skin, and a mild aroma. They’re
very perishable, so plan to cook them the same day.
From left to right:
Smelt: They have pinkish flesh, a slightly nutty taste, and, like anchovies, are only about 6 inches long. Usually sold as bait.
Sardines: About the same size but slightly less intense than mackerel, sardines are the easiest small fish to find in stores.
Anchovies: Tiny, silvery beauties, fresh anchovies are mild, sweet, and totally different from canned ones.
American mackerel: Oily and richly flavored, they come 3 or 4 to the pound.
These small fish are great additions to add to your diet.
Reason #1: They’re really good for you. The oil-rich fish are full of protein, B vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, and a compound said to boost brainpower.
Reason #2: There are lots of them—no need to feel guilty. Eating these plentiful, fast-growing fish spares scarcer, slower-to-mature ones.
Reason #3: They taste great. The key is to get them ultra-fresh and pair them with strong flavors so they aren’t fishy—just rich.
Along the Yucatán coast in Mexico, cooks often marinate oily fish like mackerel with citrus and achiote paste, made with annatto,
garlic, herbs, spices, and vinegar.
Recipe: Grilled Sardine Tacos with Achiote, Lime, and Pineapple Salsa
This quick-cured fish tastes like a milder version of pickled herring.
Recipe: Pickled Fish Salad with Potatoes and Greens
These addictive little fish are a good source of calcium, since you eat them bones and all. (No worries: The bones are too
small to notice, and the heads taste sweet and mild.)
Recipe: Anchovy Fries with Smoked Paprika Aioli
Enjoy these toasty treats as an appetizer or main dish.
Recipe: Grilled Sardine, Tomato, and Mint Bruschetta