Italian Regional Recipes Secondi Piatti: Meat, Fish, Eggs, Cheese

Italian-Style Fried Anchovies with Durum Semolina Flour

This recipe is very easy to make. Anchovies are one of the cheapest fish and can be found quite easily. We have used remilled semolina flour (which comes from the durum wheat) instead of white flour for a crispier result. In Italy, remilled durum wheat flour is widely used in the South, especially for bread and pasta making. It has a very fine grain (the remilled one), with a straw-yellow colour.

Anyway, whichever flour you use, it is important to shake off the excess flour from the fish, then plunge it into plenty of boiling oil for no more than a minute. The secret is all here in the end.

If you buy whole fresh anchovies – always recommended – the belly must be firm whilst the inside of the gills must be bright red.

Serves 4, Preparation approx. 30 mins, Cooking approx. 10-15 mins

  • 500 g whole fresh anchovies
  • Durum Semolina flour, to taste
  • Salt, to taste
  • Peanut oil for deep-frying, 500 ml


Start by cleaning anchovies: remove the head. Use a knife or scissors to open the belly, starting where the head is cut off, and eviscerate them. Open the anchovies up to the tail. You can also leave the tails attached because they help to keep the two halves together. Take the central bone, always starting from the head side, and remove it. Rinse the anchovies very well under cold running water. Then transfer them to absorbent paper or a clean cloth and pat them dry.

Put the semolina flour in a bowl and flour the anchovies carefully one at a time. Remove any excess flour by shaking them a little.

Tip: do not add salt to the flour or the fried fish will not be crispy.

In a frying pan, possibly with high sides, pour plenty of peanut oil and heat it over medium heat.

Tip: to verify if the oil is ready, simply place a wooden toothpick, if bubbles form around it then the oil is ready.

Dip the breaded anchovies in and fry them well on both sides for a maximum of 1 or max 2 minutes or until golden brown.

Use a skimmer to remove them from the oil and transfer them to a plate lined with parchment paper.

Salt to taste while they are still hot. Serve.

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