How To Fry Anchovies

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Anchovies, hamsi in Turkish, are the favorite fish of many people here and I’m not an exception! Most countries don’t have it fresh, so people there use it as paste, preserved or mostly dried. We are lucky to have this small and tasty fish fresh in Turkey. It is caught in Marmara Sea and Blacksea and sent to all around the country. We have anchovies once or twice a week during winter, when it’s in season.

So why do so many people love anchovies in Turkey? First, it’s very cheap, maybe the cheapest fish here. It costs just 6-7 liras, around $10 per kilo while others like seabream, seabass or bluefish are quite pricy. Everyone can easily buy it often and can benefit from its health benefits.

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There are several recipes of anchovies, but I guess the most loved one is fried version. I wrote a post in the past about how to cook anchovy in oven, which is another way of cooking for two of us. Cooking it in oven is definitely healthier, but to be honest, it is better when you fry it. It has a soft texture when cooked in oven while it is crunchy when fried. Just think about onion rings, potato chips or calamari, aren’t they crunchy and tasty when fried? Frying is not my every time option, but I sometimes prefer it when we buy anchovies. There could be few unhealthy things in my so healthy life, right? It doesn’t harm anyone!

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Onion is another great pair for fish in our cuisine. If you have onion, you don’t need any other kind of salad. It is the simplest way of enjoying fish! Dip it in the sauce and throw it into your mouth! Take one layer of raw onion and eat it together with the fish!

Frying anchovies is not that hard, maybe a bit messy just like frying any other food. I have a solution for this though! If you have a large and deep pot, it won’t be a nightmare to clean the stove and the counter. I recommend not to use a skillet as lots of oil spatters everywhere if you do so. I use a deep enameled pot for it and it prevents oil from spattering. Your pot should have a thin bottom, if you use cast iron or steel pots with a thick bottom, fish may not be well fried as they don’t let heat inside fast enough and they are not a good option for frying.

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What helps this fish to be crunchy is corn flour. It is coated with corn flour just before jumping into hot fyring oil. Corn flour gives a great yellowish color and gives the fish its form. It is soft and fragile without corn flour, but it becomes like chips when coated with corn flour.

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You see they have almost no bones at all, so tiny! and you can see how fresh they are as they are shining and their inner side is pinkish. So we will put one on another and their inner sides overlap.

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You see how those two anchovies seem like one thicker fish now!

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They jump into the corn flour pool together!

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Coat them very well with corn flour!

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There is a long queue in front of the pool! All are waiting to be paired and to jump!

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All enjoyed the corn flour pool and now waiting for corn oil pool!

Eating anchovies is fun too as you don’t have to make any effort to clean its bones. You can just eat them too, they are so tiny. If you don’t want to eat, you can remove it easily with one act of your two fingers.

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There is a bonus recipe I would love to share with you in this post: parsley sauce. I learnt it from mom and we love to have any roasted or fried fish with this sauce. It is not known in many parts of my country, I’m not even sure if everyone in my hometown knows it.

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Mom would always make it to pair with fried fish and I do the same now with my husband, who doesn’t like parsley much. I remember how he was amazed with the combination of parsley sauce and fish when I first made it for him. Now we never feel lazy to prepare this sauce when we have fish for meal.

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It is always fun to dip any fried food into a sauce, right? It becomes more appetizing then and you eat more this way! This parsley sauce is one of those addictive sauces, what’s more, it doesn’t contain any unhealthy ingredients. You can use it with fried or roasted veggies too!

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You feel like you can eat all of them this way!

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You don’t want to wait any longer once you dip it into this appetizing tangy sauce!

How To Fry Anchovies

Rating: 51

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

Serving Size: 4


  • 1 kilo anchovies, cleaned
  • 2 cups corn flour
  • 1 cup corn oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Parsley sauce:
  • 2 lemons, squeezed
  • 3 cloves garlic, mashed
  • A pinch of salt
  • A pinch of dried chili
  • ½ bunch of parsley, finely chopped


  1. Pour corn flour on the counter.
  2. Sprinkle salt on anchovies.
  3. Put one anchovy on another in a way that their stomach will overlap. It becomes like one piece of fish this way.
  4. Put it in corn flour and coat it well.
  5. Repeat it until you finish all anchovies.
  6. Heat corn oil over medium high heat.
  7. Fry anchovies in it for one or two minutes and transfer on a paper towel.
  8. Start preparing parsley sauce:
  9. Mix lemon juice, garlic, salt and chili well.
  10. Add finely chopped parsley into it and mix.
  11. Serve newly fried anchovies with this sauce.


  1. says

    Eating anchovies this way is probably better than those over brined in oil and salt. My husband is on a low sodium diet and can not eat those anchovies, but maybe he could eat yours if we left out the salt.

    • says

      Hi Diana, these anchovies can be eaten definitely without salt and still so tasty. If you squeeze lemon on it or if you dip it into the parsley sauce here -minus salt, I’m sure your husband will love it!

  2. says

    Well you can’t beat deep fried hamsi but your mum’s parsley sauce definitely adds a little bit of extra interest! Will definitely try this next time we have hamsi. :)

    • says

      Fried hamsi is so good that you can eat almost half kilo unless someone stops you! And you don’t want anyone to stop you if you have this parsley sauce with it! I’m sure you will love it when you try!

  3. says

    I probably can’t find fresh anchovies in the land-locked states, but they sure look marvelous! I think I could eat any fried fish…and the parsley sauce is a beautiful accompaniment :)

    • says

      Liz, you can try this parsley sauce with any fried or roasted fish! We sometimes have it with salmon too. It definitely makes any fish super tasty!

  4. says

    I love anchovies Zerrin! I never had them fried like this. What a treat! Thanks for all the comments you left me! I’m glad to reconnect.

    • says

      Reeni, it’s my pleasure to reconnect! Anchovies are almost always fried here, it’s even a street food this way. You can have a sandwich of fried anchovies in Istanbul, and that will be the best anchovies you have ever had!

  5. IG says

    thank you for that “double the anchovy” technique. i will forever be using that share!!! also looking forward to getting into that delicious-looking parsley sauce. :-)

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