Anchovies may not be the most popular topping in the world, but they are an interesting, if slightly disturbing, one. Seeing a whole fish staring back at you from your slice might be disconcerting, and leave you with a few health and safety questions, the biggest being about the bones.
Do anchovies on pizza have bones? Yes, they do! Anchovy bones are so small and soft due to their processing and preservation methods that they pose no hazards when eaten. So, unless you’re eating them fresh and raw, it isn’t worth the effort to debone such small, delicate fish.
Keep reading to see how we process these bones for eating, how to debone an anchovy, and the most frequently asked questions about anchovies.
Do Anchovies on Pizza Have Bones?
Anchovies do in fact have bones when they’re put on your pizza. Most pizza places will put the fish on the pie whole, with very little prep work beyond taking them out of their packaging and rinsing them to remove the excess packing material. You don’t have to worry, though. Eating anchovy bones isn’t dangerous if they’re prepared correctly and cooked or cured in any way.
To start with, anchovies are extremely small, usually only about four to ten inches long. Their bones aren’t big enough to be a choking hazard in most adults. Eating an anchovy raw is really the only way you may get a bone stuck in your throat. This can be uncomfortable and may cause minor pain but isn’t particularly dangerous in the long run.
Additionally, the processes through which anchovies are packaged reduces the threat even further.
Pizza Anchovies are the Safest to Eat with Bones In
Most anchovies used on pizza are prepared in one of two ways. They’re either preserved in oil or cured in salt. This helps develop the flavor of the fish over time and prevents the overwhelming and unpleasant fishy taste you get from poorly prepared and overcooked anchovies.
This means that they are left in the preserving material long enough to allow it to completely permeate the fish, all the way down to the bone. Preserving in this manner actually softens up the bones to the point that they no longer pose any threat of injury when eaten, and simply provide extra crunch to the anchovies.
When anchovies are cooked onto a pizza, the meat practically melts into its surroundings, and the bones soften even further. Eating anchovy bones on your pizza poses very little, if any, threat, and can actually make the pie taste better by adding a layer of texture to it.
How to Get Rid of Anchovy Bones
If you really don’t want to eat the bones of the anchovies that you’re putting on your pizza, you can remove them relatively easily. All you need is a sharp paring knife and steady hands.
Using the sharp tip of the knife, gently slice the anchovy in half lengthwise. Separate the fillets and, using the knife to loosen them, pull up the spine of the fish. It should come up in one big piece, but considering how delicate the bones are, may fracture if it remains stuck to any muscle tissue. Be sure to inspect the fillets after removing the bones for any straggling pieces.
Deboning an anchovy is a time-intensive process that requires fine motor work to prevent the snapping of the bones or any cuts from a slip with the knife on such a small fish. It really is best to leave the bones in unless you’re planning to eat anchovies raw and uncured.
Frequently Asked Questions:
It’s interesting to see that, despite their longstanding history as a food source, many people don’t know very much about anchovies at all beyond what they see in pop culture. Here are the answers to some of the most common questions you might have about the anchovies on your pizza.
What’s the Difference Between an Anchovy and a Sardine?
While very similar in size and appearance, anchovies and sardines are actually completely different fish. A sardine is closer in relationship to a herring than an anchovy and comes from the Mediterranean. An anchovy, on the other hand, is abundantly found near Scandinavia as well.
Sardines are larger, averaging upwards of eight inches long, and have lighter flesh and lower jaws. Anchovies are smaller and have reddish-grey flesh and a more intense flavor. Anchovies go well with pizza, while sardines do not.
Are Anchovies Healthy to Eat?
They are very healthy to eat! Anchovies are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which help regulate cholesterol levels. They’re also great sources of protein, calcium, and antioxidants. Unlike larger fish, anchovies do not live long enough or grow big enough to have significant levels of mercury. Though, eating them raw may make you ill if they come from a region prone to parasitic infections in fish.
Why are Anchovies So Expensive?
The price of anchovies has leaped up in recent years for a couple of reasons. Firstly, with the rise of farm fishing, the demand for anchovies as a food source for larger, more marketable fish has grown. They are also becoming more popular as sources of fish oil for supplement pills as the health industry expands.
Add to this unstable weather conditions in the areas where anchovies are farmed, and you can see why there has been an increase in prices over the last decade.
Anchovies on Pizza, Bones and All
People have been eating anchovies for centuries. These tiny fish pack a lot of punch, with strong flavors and delicious textures in every bite. They’re healthy if pricy, toppings to choose from for your next pizza if you’re willing to try them.
You may find the idea of eating fish bones unappealing at first. It makes sense – it’s unpleasant to get one stuck in your throat mid-meal. But when you understand the curing and cooking process, as well as the benefits they serve, you might just appreciate that extra crunch.