I wasn't quite sure what to ask for when I went into my local fish shop. "I'd like to cook some small fish," I said awkwardly. "What do you have?" The fishmonger sold me on some anchovies, imported the day before from Portugal, and a perch, brought to the shop that morning from the nearby Long Island Sound. The fishmonger cleaned the fish and cut the tails and heads off the anchovies. Now I just needed to figure out how to cook them.
Like me, you may have eaten small fish — like mackerel, herring, and sardines — but rarely by themselves. Most of the small fish that fishermen pluck from the sea are used in fishmeal to feed poultry, pigs, and larger farmed fish. But there are a few good reasons to embrace the little guys.