Olasagasti Anchovies a la Basque (Donostiarra)


Dan’s Tasting Notes: “Superb. When I cracked open the lid the aroma was pure that knowing half laugh Judi Dench delivers in Chocolat the first time she experiences the drinking chocolate. The level of red pepper (1) and garlic (1 clove) and oil and salt and fishness was impeccably balanced. I saved the oil for later use. These are ‘in the Basque style’, which for anchovies means they’re not tightly packed as we usually see with tinned fishies. They’re loose, to give the olive oil the ability to fully saturate every bit. The larger tin also allows for longer pieces of anchovy. The pleasures abound and compound.  I can now, from experience and without reservation, unequivocally recommend Olasagasti Anchovies a la Basque. Save the oil. For salad dressing, for croutons, home fries, for fried onions, for to cure all that ails you.”

Olasagasti, located in the Basque region of Spain, has been in business since 1929 and produce their products using traditional Spanish methods. Unlike the vinegar-marinated white “boquerone” style of anchovies, these anchovies are fried in olive oil “a la Donostiarra” with garlic and cayenne pepper.

One unique aspect of these anchovies is that the tins are not packed tightly to the brim with fish. This is a trademark of Olasagasti, who feel that using a larger tin gives the anchovies space to move and become covered in the marinade of olive oil, garlic, cayenne, wine vinegar and salt. The leftover oil is a flavorful bonus you can use for sauteing vegetables or shellfish.

190g tin

Pictured with potato pancakes and chive sour cream.

In stock

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Ingredients: Anchovies (53%) (Engraulis encrasicholus), olive oil (45%), a clove of garlic, cayenne pepper, wine vinegar, salt.

Sicilian Salvatore Orlando first set foot on the Basque coast of Spain in the late 1800s and pioneered long-standing Italian salting techniques along the Cantabrian Coast, where he also fell in love and married a Basque woman,
Simona Olasagasti. Today, the grandson of Salvatore and Simona, Matteo Orlando, is in charge of the factory at Markina, Bizkaia, maintaining centuries-old tradition and flying the flag for his grandmother’s surname, Olasagasti.

Check out SlowJabroni exploring this tin of anchovies.

See what Matthew Carlson has to say about these anchovies.


  1. Jeff (verified owner)

    As a bit of a warning if you’re not in good company with folks who enjoy such an olfactory experience, cracking this tin open immediately filled my kitchen with a strong garlic and fish aroma – a beautiful thing for me, but not for all.

    As with other Olasagasti offerings I’ve tried, these fish are in an oversized tin so that they are not tightly packed together. The anchovies are swimming a fragrant oil alongside a full clove of garlic and small red pepper. Picking them out of the tin they feel firm and hold together – similar to the white anchovies I’ve tried from Patagonia Provisions.

    These are just about the most delicious tinned fish I’ve ever had straight of the tin. They are firm and have a good chew to them, and the garlic is pervasive but not too sharp. If I had another tin or two on hand I think I would have had a problem holding back from opening them right up.

  2. fibersides (verified owner)

    Just to be very clear, these are not the style of anchovy fillets that, if you’re lucky enough, you might find on a nice, juicy pizza. Heaven’s no. These anchovies are presented with skin and bone, more like you’d have with a tin of canned sardines. They’re firm, meaty, salty, and spicy, and you’re going to love them, so go getcha some!

    If you’re reading this, then you have had quite the review from Dan and Jeff already. I’m here to say, that I agree with everything they said from the fishy fragrance to the firm flesh. The presentation is indeed noteworthy in that these anchovies have space in the can. This ensures the fish have a fantastic final swim before you dive in. Have to say, if you’re into anchovies, or even if you’re not, these anchovies are a delight to be sure.

  3. Hream McDan (verified owner)

    Anchovy game changer, these are the most impressive (not salt-cured) anchovies I’ve ever had. Better than the Patagonia anchovy tin with roasted garlic. The Olasagasti flavor is nuanced quite a bit beyond just fish and oil, impressive depth even when eating straight from the tin at room temp. The anchovies are firmer than most sardines, there is no “melt in your mouth” factor here and that’s ok! The texture is halfway between a standard sardine (e.g. King Oscar) and standard canned tuna … ordinarily that wouldn’t be a compliment in my book, but this just works. Filets are huge, the tin feels like it is a really substantial portion. I loved eating this by itself but also think this would be fantastic on toast with a little bit of avocado, maybe a squeeze of lemon.

    If you’re interested in trying a sardine-style anchovy that won’t just make you say “oh, this just tastes like a dry sardine” … look no further. It would be hard to imagine a better version of this anchovy style. Unique and fantastic.

  4. William Kennedy (verified owner)

    Tonight was the first time that I’d tried an anchovy that I actually liked. No. Loved. Clearly I am not an anchovy eater. So for me to purchase and open this can required a “leap of faith” on my part. Think “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.”

    Just wow. What a great tasting tin. Exquisite. I was initially a little bit surprised by the available “real estate” in the can but I soon overcame my surprise, but by the end of the can I was wishing that empty space had been taken up by MORE.

    Really damn tasty.

    I completely agree with the others, the quality of the oil and blend of spices makes the experience “finger lickin” good. Literally. From now on I will treat the oil in the can with the care and respect it deserves. I will take precautions to preserve much of it for later use beyond sucking it out of my shirt tail.

    My only complaint with the whole experience was that it was over much too quickly, like an amusement park ride or ???

    From now on the Olasagasti A La Donostiarra will reside in the rarified atmosphere at the pinnacle of my list of favorites, and in my pantry. Gratitude and kudos to Dan for recommending.

  5. Betty Chu (verified owner)

    I went into this tin with high expectations after reading all the glowing reviews. My first bite left me a little confused though. The anchovy was firm, a bit dry, and way, way too salty. It’s clearly not a pizza anchovy, but it packs more than enough salt, as evidenced by the nutrition facts.

    I switched gears and sliced up some 3-cheese bread, toasted it, and slapped the anchovies on top. Whoa. Game changer! Together, the anchovies and cheese bread really sang. I gobbled down slice after slice of this harmonious combo until the tin was all gone.

    I’m happy to have a spare tin and I’m already dreaming up different ways to enjoy it. These anchovies would be fantastic with a light pan searing to top off pasta dressed with the tin oil, or breaded and fried to toss in a salad.

  6. toolndie (verified owner)

    Eight loosely packed Anchovies, swimming in a brothy oil…they are 3-4 inches long…a red pepper and a half clove of garlic…
    I agree with Dan, that when opened a very enticing aroma wafts up from the tin…
    The flesh has an excellent chew…not soft at all…has a great fish flavor similar to sardines but different enough to be noticeable…there is a very pleasant bite of heat which lingers…the oil is clean tasting, and by that I mean of obvious high quality…a delicious spiciness with a hint of garlic comes out mid palate…just the perfect amount of salt…the heat level is also on point, enough to please the pepper heads, but not so much as to hurt anyone else…
    I had with slices of toasted Artisan Garlic Bread, Castelvetrano Olives, and Homemade Dill Pickles…placed Anchovies on the bread and drenched with that incredible oil…
    This was an amazing tin…just absolutely delicious!…and one of the best I have ever had…it was worth every penny of the cost…to purchase again…

  7. Matt (verified owner)

    Wow! These are really bright. Very well seasoned. Oil is clean and flavored well with garlic, but I didn’t get the heat other reviewers did. Regardless, these were a pleasant surprise and will definitely order again.

  8. Peter Kupchick (verified owner)

    Ding ding ding we have a winner. These have surpasses the Nuri spiced sardines for me as my favorite tin I’ve tried so far. The seasoning on these is perfect!!! The oil made for an amazing salad dressing. The way these burst with perfectly balanced flavors made my accoutrements sing. Served on focaccia, crème fraiche, pickled red onion, sliced cherry tomatoe, lemon juice, fresh cracked pepper. Will be re ordering these for sure.

  9. Greg L (verified owner)

    I almost don’t have words for how good this tin is. I had no idea what to expect as I’ve never had anchovies that weren’t salted. These were an absolute revelation. This is my very favorite tin of seafood out of the 100+ different kinds of tins that I have tried. The texture is a little more firm and substantial than most sardines. It has a great mouthfeel. These were very moist, I’m guessing due to the loose packing of the fish themselves. They had plenty of room to swim around in the seasoned broth/oil mixture. The seasoning is the real winner her. Intensely peppery and garlicy in all the best ways. Salted to absolute perfection. This is everything I want from a tin of seafood and more. It breaks the scale. Just buy it.

  10. Daniel Nusdeo (verified owner)

    These were absolutely bomb. As always, I pulled one out of the tin immediately and ate it on its own to try it. Could’ve eaten this whole delicious garlicky tin like that, but instead:

    Made my standard late-night anchovy pasta with this. Boil linguine, and while it’s boiling saute some garlic and cracked red pepper in a little oil, then dump the whole tin in with about 5 minutes left on the linguine. Season to taste with herbs and salt and pepper and cook, stirring, for those 5 minutes. Drain linguine and toss it all together.

    My goodness, it was so freaking good. I could’ve served it at a restaurant.

  11. Sarah (verified owner)

    If I hadn’t been spoiled by the Patagonia and Ferrigno anchovies of the same style, I would probably think these were excellent. Those raised the bar though. I prefer the Patagonia anchovies (lemon olive are my favorite, but roasted garlic are most similar to these ones) in both texture (slightly moister than these, although still somewhat dry, in a good way) and salt level (these Olasagasti ones are saltier, too salty for me). I like to eat straight from the tin though- I could see these as being excellent with pasta, because the tin has such a substantial amount of tasty oil. But given the other excellent engraulis encrasicolus offerings, I will probably not get these again, especially given that they are $5 more a tin.

  12. Lawrence Kalinowski (verified owner)

    large meaty fish, loosely packed in OO with chili. fragrant garlic smell. very very toothsome. not spicy. not aggressively salty. not super fishy. a radical departure from a utility anchovy.

    a very well executed balance between the fish, the oil, the salt and the spices.

    this fish deserves center stage. its lovely.

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