Anchovy and Roasted Red Pepper Pintxo

Anchovy and Roasted Red Pepper PintxoCanned AnchorviesLast week I began my journey to explore tapas. I started with a hilarious adventure in making chorizo al vino, then the much more successful recipe, Galician Scallops. This week I wanted to make boquerones but it requires fresh anchovies, and I just don’t have access to any at the moment. Instead I stumbled across the idea of anchovies with roasted red peppers, which are a perfect use for the readily available canned anchovies.

So a few history lessons to start us off:

The word Pintxo is a Basque run-off of the Spanish word pincho; ‘thorn’ or ‘spike’. Although sometimes labeled as tapas, the snacks at a pintxo bar will almost always involve a toothpick ‘spiking’ through several ingredients, usually with the inclusion of a slice of bread at the bottom. And unlike typical tapas you will always have to order and pay for your pintxo separate from your drinks.

As for anchovies: A lot of people get confused between anchovies, sardines, herring, and hooligan. The fact is that they are all small silver fish and could possibly replace each other in a variety of dishes but one stands out. Sardines are really just small herring from the Clupeidae family. Hooligan, or candlefish, are Eulachon smelt only found in the Pacific, so they wouldn’t have been used in traditional Mediterranean dishes. Interestingly the Alaska Natives from the Cook Inlet area called them ‘savior fish’ because they would be the first fish to arrive early in the spring.

The anchovy, on the other hand, belongs to the Engraulidae family. It is very prevalent in the Mediterranean and Black Seas, as well as other parts of the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific oceans. It is most often sold heavily salted and allowed to ‘age’ in oil, giving it a very distinct and intense flavor.

Anchovy and Roasted Red Pepper PintxosThis appetizer/tapa/pintxo is really easy to make, especially if you purchase pre-canned roasted red peppers. Although the original recipe very specifically uses anchovies I think smoked salmon, or particularly lox would make for a much milder eatable. My last suggestion, without the need for smoking, would be thinly sliced salt fish which is very easy to make at home and would definitely be a viable replacement for the intensity of the cured and salty anchovies.

Try one of these suggestions for an Alaskan style snack, stick strictly to the original, or use a similar favorite fish from your own region for local flare. This recipe is so easy and so good!

Anchovy and Roasted Red Pepper Pintxo with Cheese

By: semiserious chefs
Serves: 10-12 pintxos/slices


  • 10-12 anchovies; one 2 oz can of anchovies in salt and oil*
  • 10-12 slices of baguette
  • 1 red pepper, halved and roasted
    • OR 1 cup canned roasted red peppers
  • 1large clove of garlic
  • 10-12 slices of manchego cheese**
  • sherry or marsala cooking wine for finishing

*See the suggestions above for other great ideas if you cannot or would rather not use sardines.

**Manchego cheese is made from sheep milk and produced in the northern region of Spain bearing the same name. If you don’t have this available try another soft, mild, nutty, white cheese. I might suggest Gruyère, Gouda, or Havarti, which is what I used here.


  1. Rub the face of each slice of baguette with raw garlic, and brush with olive oil.
  2. Broil for a few minutes until lightly toasted and golden. Flip each piece and repeat.
  3. Add a slice of cheese and piece of roasted red pepper sized to your liking, as well as one anchovy to each slice of bread. Broil again until the cheese has melted.
  4. Drizzle each slice with sherry or marsala cooking wine right before serving.
  5. To make it a true pintxo, skewer each with a toothpick.

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