Tuyo vs. Anchovies: Can Tuyo Be Used Instead of Anchovies?

Here's what you need to know.

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Tuyo is a generalized term for fish that has been sun-dried. The most common kind of fish to be made into tuyo is the local herring. Herrings are different from the anchovy which, while in the same fish family, are much larger than anchovies. The dilis is closer to anchovies with regards to the size. 

To make tuyo, the herring are gutted, but usually left whole. It is then heavily salted before being left out to dry under the hot sun in bilaos or rice winnowers. Anchovies are also gutted but these are also filleted. It's just the fillets that are salt-brined. The fish is then commonly packed in oil to preserve the fish.  

Both are very salty fish but this is what makes both fantastic ingredients in recipes! For some recipes, you can technically use anchovies in place of tuyo and vice versa. The biggest consideration if you do make the swap is the texture of the fish. Anchovies are soft fish fillets that easily disintegrate in food when mixed. That's why it's common to see anchovies mashed into dishes, leaving you with its taste, rather than seeing the individual fillets. 

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Tuyo however is sun-dried, not brined, so the fillets are dehydrated and much harder to "mash" than anchovies. It can be flaked into smaller bits especially after a soak in water or oil. The good news is that there are gourmet tuyo fillets packed in oil that eliminates the need to do this yourself. Since it's had time to soak in the oil, it's this version that can easily be used in place of anchovies in some recipes.  

When using either fish in recipes, it's common to see either used as the main ingredient with regards to salt. Since both are salted, you'll need to adjust to taste before and after adding the tuyo or the anchovies to the dish. 

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You can prepare and use tuyo to mimic anchovies in four ways:

  • • whole fillets
  • • chopped
  • • lightly mashed
  • • use the oil from bottled gourmet tuyo 

You can use whole fillets to top your dish or stir into the dish but to closer mimic anchovies, you should either chop or mash the fillets into your dish. The finer the better. You can even use the oil from that nearly empty bottle of gourmet tuyo for your dish for that punch of extra flavor.         

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Here are a few ways you can use tuyo instead of anchovies in recipes: 

Photo by Bianca Laxamana

1 Use flaked tuyo instead in Caesar salad dressing.  

If you take a look at a normal Caesar salad dressing recipe, you'll see that this creamy dressing uses anchovies. You can swap tuyo for a localized version of this classic salad. You can even substitute 1 tablespoon or more of the olive oil and neutral oil you might usually use for some of the oil from the oil-packed tuyo fillets for even more of that briny taste.    

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2 Make an umami-packed puttanesca pasta.    

Instead of anchovies, finely flaked tuyo fillets could deliver the same amount of salty and umami flavors that is needed to give this pasta sauce that delicious taste. It has enough tomato and other sour ingredients such as the capers and briny olives to temper the saltiness of the tuyo.      

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Photo by Miguel Nacianceno

3 Add it to a Pinoy-inspired "risotto" rice. 

Risotto is a creamy rice dish that is cooked on the stovetop. What makes this rice so unique is that it's gently and slowly simmered until the rice is cooked. You need to constantly stir this mixture to ensure that the rice becomes creamy and it doesn't scorch on the bottom. Anchovies give the risotto a delicious taste but to make it more Pinoy, you need to swamp out ingredients, including the anchovies for tuyo

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4 Use it as a topping for pizza. 

Some people love a pizza that has anchovies. For those who do, swap the anchovies for tuyo fillets so you have a heartier bite that has the similar salty taste that you're looking for. This is a fantastic ingredient swap for pizzas with shrimp and garlic. 

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Thinking about what to cook next? Join our Facebook group, Yummy Pinoy Cooking Club, to get more recipe ideas, share your own dishes, and find out what the rest of the community are making and eating!

Got your own version of the classic dishes? Pa-share naman! Get your recipe published on Yummy.ph by submitting your recipe here.


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