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.
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Photo by Thomas J. Story
3 simple reasons
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.
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Photo by Annabelle Breakey
Grilled Sardine Tacos with Achiote, Lime, and Pineapple Salsa
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.