Nutrient Rich Snack: Dried Anchovies


I have a personal policy that I will introduce nourishing, healthy, nutrient rich food to my daughter, even if I don’t like it.  I hope that even if I never develop a taste for something, that she will. This has been the case for liver. I can’t say I actually enjoy eating liver, but I try to serve it on a somewhat frequent basis since she has learned to love it and my husband enjoys it as well (I eat it, but don’t love it. Though I am beginning to be able to enjoy it)). So when I found out that Radiant Life was carrying dried anchovies because Sally Fallon had recommended it as a very nutrient rich, traditional snack, I was interested.

It’s not that it really appealed strongly to my taste-buds, but rather  knowing how extremely good it would be for us appealed to me. I decided that next time I went to my local Asian store, I would look for some. Meanwhile, Cheeseslave mentioned eating dried fish with her young daughter as a snack, which encouraged me that it wouldn’t taste too bad!

A few weeks ago, we were able to go to the Asian store, and had a terrible time finding it. We kept coming across packaged large dried fish and I thought,  “I’m not gnawing on that! It would break a tooth!”. I am still not sure what you are supposed to do with the large dried fish, but we finally found the dried anchovies. It was in the refrigerated section.  I appreciate that this brand is from Japan, where they have high quality control (unlike China). Still,  my husband and I looked at each other in a little uncertainty. They certainly didn’t look appetizing. But they were only $1.50 a package (much cheaper then buying them online), so it was worth a try!

My daughter LOVES them. Seriously loves them. It’s probably the most nutrient rich snack I’ve ever heard of, so I feel it’s a great snack choice. Joel and I were surprised to find that they actually aren’t bad tasting (though they are fishy smelling for sure)! Now, I can’t say that I would be tempted to eat the whole bag of them, like I would if they were corn chips, but I really don’t think they are bad at all. And that’s something coming from someone who didn’t like fish at all until adulthood.

I had a friend over yesterday who is a fellow health food enthusiast, so I told her about the dried anchovies. I gave some to Elena and we offered some to her children. Her cautious four year old wouldn’t try it, but her two year old loved them. Elena and he polished off a small bowl of them in no time!  It’s amazing to me how little kids often love nutrient rich foods.

While they don’t contain any salt, because they swam in the sea, they have a bit of a salty overtone. And my most favorite part of all? They are a very frugal snack, so I am paying very little, for a very nutrient rich food. How often does that happen?!

By the way, not only do you get the benefits of fish with these little snacks, but I believe you also get the benefit of thyroid support because they still contain the heads, thyroid in tact (and you thought that was icky? It’s the best part!).

I know that for some of you this is a little beyond your comfort zone, and it was beyond mind too at first. But you never know until you try it! You may be surprised.

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I love beautiful and simple food that is nourishing to the body and the soul. I wrote Fresh: Nourishing Salads for All Seasons and Ladled: Nourishing Soups for All Seasons as another outlet of sharing this love of mine. I also love sharing practical tips on how to make a real food diet work on a real life budget. Find me online elsewhere by clicking on the icons below!

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  1. says

    Wow…I’ve never heard of eating dried fish like this! Do you just eat them like a chip, one bite at a time, head and tail….everything?

    KH: It does sound a little strange to our Western mind, doesn’t it! You do eat everything, but the head and tail doesn’t seem different in texture or anything like that. It’s kind of dry and crispy. 🙂

  2. says

    I just found these for the first time in the local Asian store near me about a month ago and my kids liked them as well. It is amazing what kids will eat if their taste buds haven’t been ruined by sugar and junk food. I also boiled them in water to make a soup stock for miso soup. Yummy!

    KH: I agree! If your taste buds aren’t ruined at a young age, you can enjoy a wide range of food! I love the idea of making a soup stock with the fish. I will have to try that!

  3. says

    My kids would probably love these. My formerly-picky 7.75 year-old ADORES canned fish like sardines and salmon. He would eat tuna constantly if I’d let him (except now he knows it can have lots of mercury so he won’t touch it) He gets mad because I won’t let him have sardines every day.

    We try to have a similar policy with our children and our food aversions (we don’t have many of the latter and hope to have many of the former :D) I try not to even let them know about the things I don’t like (or things that I am afraid of, like sleeping in a tent) so they don’t get any preconceived notions. My husband used to eat sardines with his dad just because Dad ate them. Hubby never really liked them but he likes the memories they evoke. So he started eating them with ours and they really enjoy that. Only oldest son really loves the fish but the others like having a special treat with Dad. I choose to make myself scarce when the sardines come out 😐

    I will definitely be looking for dried anchovies at one of our Asian food stores. I’m sure the sardine-lover will enjoy them at least as much as he now likes pork rinds 😀 Oh, he also loves fat.

    KH: I bet your kids will like them, because, at least to me, they taste less fishy then canned fish. 🙂

  4. says

    How interesting! I have been trying to eat more anchovies and sardines in general because of teachings from Sally and others. But dried? Never heard of that! I am amazed your daughter loves them. Will have to check this out…

    KH: Elena likes fish, so I am sure that helps. But I have been surprised at how much she immediately loves nutrient dense food, like liver, cod liver oil (she always asks for more), fish and now dried fish! But I can tell that she would be easily swayed too eating non-nourishing food if I let her eat it. 😉

  5. Kimberly says

    I just bought some seaweed for the first time and fried it in a bit of coconut oil. They got all crispy-salty. My two young girls (4 and 2) LOVED them! People are always surprised my kids will eat healthy foods like swiss chard, cod liver oil and sprouts. I’ve got to find some dried fish. I bought some kipperd herring the other day (but have been to scared to try it) and have been looking for other “fishy” foods for my girls that would be quick and nutritious as a snack. Thanks for the tip!

    • colleen says

      Just so you know, there is lever already roasted so you won’t have to do that yourself. You can also find it at the Asian Market. My kids LOVE it. This is how my family its it. I cut the sheets in half then in thirds. I make brown rice. The children scoop up the rice in the roaster lever. We sometimes add sliced cucumbers or carrots and fish eggs. Can I just say AWESOME!

  6. says

    Hmmm…dried anchovies. I’m not quite sure that I could eat them, but I do suspect that both of my kids (who would drink HVCLO by the bottle full) may very well eat them. We have an asian grocery store in town so I’ll have to venture over to see if they have any. I’m also not surprised that younger ones would take to them more willingly than older ones. I’ve often found that’s the case with my two. Oh to have an open palate and no preconceived notions of how things taste!

  7. says

    Hmmm . . . I bet my son, and dad would love these! He loves smoked fish (salmon, herring, etc.) and crunchy anything so these might do the trick! Thanks for the suggestion!

    BTW – we used to live a neighborhood away from Chinatown in San Francisco and ALWAYS saw big baskets of various dried fish sold by the ounce. I’m pretty sure the larger dried fish are used in making soups. Sometimes I walked to and from work through Chinatown and, I have to be honest, I had to stop doing that while pregnant because the scents from baskets upon baskets of dried fish and mushrooms tied in with everything else that Chinatown smelled like was too much! 🙂 It was a fun experience though!


    PS – And yes, also from this experience (and my experience with my Japanese friends) I too would eat anything from Japan before anything from China . . . 🙂

  8. Meghan Alas says

    Hi Kimi! I’ve been following your blog for over a year now and you never fail to amaze me. I love all your informative posts, recipes and the new look of your site!

    Koreans eat these little anchovies seasoned and sauteed as a side dish. I was never too fond of them, but may have to start incorporating them into our meals more often since they are so nutritious! Either that or start giving them to my kids as a snack. I would have never thought of it. I use the bigger anchovies to flavor soups/broth and then discard.

    KH: LOL. Thanks for the complement. My mother thinks it’s “amazing” too that we eat these types of food. 😉 Do you happen to have a recipe made the Korean way? I would love to try it. I would also love to hear a little more of how you use it in soups!

  9. says

    I don’t think they taste fishy at all — just salty.

    I agree w/ Kimi, though, I would not want to eat a whole bag. But it’s something that goes really well as an after-school snack — especially with rice crackers.

    Just be careful when you buy them at the Asian market that you buy only the brands that do not contain MSG.

    KH: Thanks for the heads up. At our market, we didn’t find any that contained MSG, so I am glad that you warned others!

  10. says

    I can barely tolerate fish and so I doubt I would ever enjoy these, but I know my 6-year-old would love them. He and his dad really enjoy sharing a can of sardines. Thanks for sharing about them, I’ll have to see if I can hunt them down…

  11. says

    Ok, I went to the asian market today since I’d just read your post, so I’m back to report that in Boston at the Super88, the bag of frozen dried anchovies cost $6.49 for 1 pound! I might still try them, though I didn’t buy today. So, I’m wondering, do you let them defrost when you get home or do you keep in the freezer? You don’t eat them frozen I’d imagine?

    KH: That’s not a bad price, really. I realized that I forgot to mention that it cost $1.50 to buy a 3 ounce package! We just keep it in our fridge. 🙂

  12. says

    Kimi, I had no idea these were nourishing. 😮 We make tangy curries with this in the southern part of India. I’ve also heard that these can be used in dips too.

    Thanks for letting me know. I thought this was my vice, but turns out that it is actually a nourishing food. Who would have thought!!!

    KH: Always fun to find out, isn’t it! I would love to get some of your recipes using them! They sound delicious!

  13. says

    I am hoping to go to a few Japanese stores soon, I’ll SO look for these! My 2 yo likes to nibble on things and it’s difficult finding healthy snacks these days!

  14. Erica says

    I’ve gotten dried sardines at our local Japanese market. They are super cheap!

    Lindsey in AL, did you know that it’s possible to buy low-mercury tuna? It’s taken from young fish that swim in specific, clean areas of I don’t know which ocean, and my understanding is it’s virtually mercury-free. I don’t know the name of the brand or brands that carry it, but you could find it, I’m sure, with a little Google research (which I’m in too much of a rush to do right now).

  15. says

    When I lived in Japan, these were a very common snack, even in their 7-11’s and grocery store snack aisles, along with many other types of dried fish. Our students tried to convince us to eat them, but after trying some dried squid once, I wasn’t really game. 🙂

    However, they are commonly used to make broth for miso and other soups, using the dried sardines and kombu (a very nutrient-dense seaweed). Although most of the younger generation uses packaged, MSG-filled soup broth, the older generation does it this way, making miso soup that much more nourishing.

    I bet you my kids would go for it, if I bought these for them. Maybe I should grab some, the next time we’re at the local Korean market. Don’t worry- I don’t think you’re too weird, Kimi! 🙂

  16. Luci says

    I’ve ‘adopted’ a Korean couple and have seen her make miso soup with them. I wanted to add that when you go to the Asian store that the dried octopus/squid is good, too! 🙂

  17. says

    Just watch out for the MSG in some of the dried fish! I’ve always been a happy camper with canned salmon and mackerel. Yum. You can make miso soup with fish stock – I even found a nice chickpea miso that works for soy-free folks.

  18. Tacia says

    I have some stored in my freezer as recommended by my Korean friend. She uses them in any soup to add flavor and the calcium benefits. Her daughters do eat them as a side dish. I add them to seaweed soup (then pick them out).

  19. Angeline says

    i agree with Erica in watching out of MSG in some dried fish. I am a asian. We used dried anchovies to cook with our food. In order not to take in too much salt, soak them in water for a while to wash away the salt content.

  20. TrailGrrl says

    I found out over Thanksgiving holiday that I like anchovies in oil in the can, so I will have to look for these dried ones. Sounds like a yummy snack.

  21. Jasmin says

    Thanks for the idea!
    I just tried it out today and I like it a lot. It is a very quick, inexpensive and nourishing snack. Even my 15-months old boy, who is a very picky eater eats them.
    Since they are dried, they might have similar health-benefits as raw fish without being as gross to eat as raw fish.

  22. Jasmin says

    I have a question about the MSG-content:

    Is it possible that there is still MSG in those even if the ingredient-list does not say it????

    • jean says

      I dont think so. Certain basic and staple food items like anchovies aren’t tampered with much. Anchovy fish, powder, or stock, is commonly used as a natural flavor enhancer for soup bases. I read that Japan, Korea, and Italy are the top consumers of anchovies?

  23. R.A. says

    I know that I’m a few days late for comments here, but I thought I’d share something briefly.

    I’m not sure how often the NT/WAPF people eat shrimps, but this post reminded me of the abundance of dried shrimps in a lot of Southeast Asian cooking. The Thais, Malaysians, etc. all have some dishes that use the dried shrimps. Depending on where everyone here is based, you may be able to find them at such stores as Super H Mart or possibly in some Chinatown supermarkets. I’ve never looked, but you may also be able to find them online somewhere.

    Some months ago, I found a small container of them in the cupboards and was able to make a tasty fried rice with other “leftover” ingredients. For those who are avoiding grains, this, obviously, isn’t a good idea, but, surely, you can eat dried shrimps in other dishes, no?

    Does anyone else have experiences with dried shrimps or other seafoods?

  24. jean says

    I’m snacking on dried anchovies rite now! It’s hard to find them the way I remembered eating them as a kid in Moscow but I was surprised to find so much fresh and dried seafood variety in local supermarkets here!

  25. says

    I used to eat dried fish as snacks when I lived in Japan, this makes me very nostalgic. It’s very common there. I’d forgotten all about them. I’ll look for them next time I get to an Asian market (I live far from any now, unfortunately).

  26. Sara C. says

    I just watched this video on how to make a couple side dishes with small dried anchovies. They are Korean inspired. I haven’t tried them yet but I think I will as soon as I get a chance to get to the Korean store.

  27. a. says

    this sounds so yummy. i will have to get some to snack on! the bigger fish, i’m fairly sure are used by either putting into stocks/broths, or by grinding up and using the powder to flavor things. i watched wonton filling being made that way on a cooking/travel show (they were in hong kong) – a whole dried pomfret was ground up and a few spoonfuls were added to the pork/shrimp filling. YUM! 🙂

  28. says

    In Korean those are called ‘myeolchi’ — check out a recipe called ‘myeolchi bokkeum’ for a really quick and delicious side-dish. You can also make the same dish with dried shrimp, which have their own wealth of health benefits.

  29. Ronnie says

    Try tossing the tiny whole fish, heads and all, into a green salad for a salty, crispy, protein-dense, calcium rich enhancement full of Omega-3 fatty acids.

  30. suz says

    can you make salted anchovies like the ones we use in caesar salad using dried anchovies? i would really appreciate and answer. cheers!

  31. Bonnie says

    I started eating the dried anchovies because I needed the calcium and iron (I can’t take vitamins, they make me gag and dried fish with bones intact are high in calcium and iron). They are fine on their own, but if you really want to make them delicious, try dried chipotle powder (think spicy nuts at a bar). You end up with crunchy and spicy.

  32. HarryMonmouth says

    I am going to search for these now. I have had a mad anchovy craving lately and I am convinced that it is because of some health benefit that my subconscious knows about. These sound absolutely delicious despite the dried fish heads.

  33. Shy says

    These are worth a try. I am currently living in S.Korea and dried anchovies are used in lots of meals or as snacks. You can also make rice balls then roll them in the anchovies as well. I was eating them today when my 20 month old daughter reached for them. I decided to let her try them and she kept coming back for more. We eat very healthy but I was a bit surprised. I guess I shouldnt be because she also likes to snack on kim has well (laver or seaweed paper).

  34. Lusia says

    I was actually really interested to read this. My mother is Icelandic and I grew up eating dried fish as a snack – although white fish like haddock and cod, rather than omega-3 rich anchovies. This might also be a good nutritional option, since as a source of protein it’s unbeatable – and much better for you than the majority of snackfoods sold in stores.

  35. says

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  36. says

    I have always heard of Asian cultures eating dried fish as snacks. I personally love sea weed of all kinds and fish is actually the only “meat” I eat so I will definitely give these little guys a try!

  37. Villarina says

    Coming from a tropical country in South East Asia, I grew up eating anchovies either as side dish, additional ingredients or snacks. Normally we rinse the anchovies before cooking and remove the head/internal parts of the anchovies. If you’re lucky you can find those that are sold without head/internal parts. There are so many delicious recipes using anchovies but I would like to share one nice and yet simple recipe for you to try :

    Fried Macaroni with Anchovies

    Stir fry a handful of dried anchovies with a little bit of oil (either until crispy or golden in colour), put aside.
    Sautee one finely chopped large onion (garlic optional)
    Add two large tomatoes (cubed) and stir until it is almost pureed
    Add salt, black pepper, chilli powder (optional) and mixed herbs to taste
    Add the anchovies, macaroni & gherkins

    Done. Now you can enjoy a nutritious, nice & chewy macaroni.

  38. Nadzri Mohd says

    Another way of eating it is by mixing it into a bowl of rice porridge. Try it and you’ll love it…!

  39. peggy loper says

    In South Korea we eat them with “go choo zhang” – a spicy red pepper paste/sauce. The pepper cuts the fishy taste. Fabulous with cold beer!

  40. caitlin says

    do you have any thoughts regarding radiation and contamination with this product due to the earthquake in Japan? I am considering buying some but I am unsure. thanks for any input.

  41. T says

    I know this is an old post but I just wanted to make my input 🙂 I’m Korean and have grown up eating these. Both of my kids have also grown up eating these and they love them! I don’t know about other Asian cultures but traditionally, Koreans sauteed these in a pan with some cooking oil, fresh ginger, fresh garlic and a small splash of soy sauce! Super delicious, super simple and super fast! You can make several cups worth in under 5 minutes and have it to sprinkle on top of your choice of rice or quinoa for the week! You can eat them whole, they’ll be a little crunchy and chewy but I highly recommend trying them this way. You can eat them straight out of the bag too because they are delicious as is but I prefer them sauteed the Korean way 😉

  42. Elly says

    We eat it in all sorts of ways in S.E. Asia. Just google “ikan bilis”, and look for the images. It is the common Malay name for anchovies. It might give you new ideas of how to eat/cook it.

    It should be easy to find it is any Asian Markets. Widely used by S.E. Asians, Japanese, Koreans and Chinese.

  43. Amused says

    You are hilarious. Actually 90% of food exported by Japan has been found to contain carcinogenic radioactive traces from its nuclear plant fallout. Hahaha.


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