Anchovies have been getting a bad rap for years. Some people love them, while others absolutely hate them. But the many people who haven’t tried them don’t know what they’re missing. Although anchovies do have a salty taste, they lend an unparalleled flavor to whatever dish they are in. Often the base for many Italian recipes, anchovies blend in so exceptionally, those people unsavvy to anchovies don’t even know it is anchovies they are tasting. If you aren’t a fan, give anchovies a chance and you just may change your mind about these gourmet mini delicacies.
Anchovies are a small salt-water fish that can be as small as two centimeters and as large as 40 centimeters.
Anchovies are abundant around the Mediterranean, which makes them especially popular in Italy, France and Spain.
Anchovies are most typically preserved by being salted then packed in oil or salt, giving them their distinct briny flavor. They are also available as anchovy paste.
Anchovies are the backbone of many sauces, including Worcestershire, remoulade, fish sauces, and most notably Caesar salad dressing.
Anchovies available in the United States are usually found in small jars or tins and can be flat or wrapped in capers.
Before eating anchovies, you can rinse the salt brine off to bring out their authentic fish flavor even more, or if you enjoy the salty taste, skip the rinse.
If you are not going to use the entire jar or tin of anchovies at once, place the remaining fish in an airtight container and cover with oil and a lid and keep chilled.
If you really enjoy the anchovy taste, you can use the little fish as a garnish for pizza, salads, bruschetta, and canapés, and as component of flavored butters and grain or vegetable
Anchovies can also be added to lasagna or any pasta dish (especially a puttanesca sauce), chicken dishes, fish dishes, and almost any sauce, soup or stew.
Once you try – and discover that you love – anchovies, the culinary possibilities are limitless.
Anchovy Stuffed Figs
Makes 4 servings
15 black olives, pitted
2 teaspoons capers
1 (2-ounce) tin flat anchovy fillets
1 teaspoon freshly chopped thyme
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for garnish
12 small fresh figs
1. Combine olives, capers, anchovies and thyme in a food processor or blender. Pulse until chopped then drizzle olive oil in and pulse until smooth.
2. Cut a small slit into the side of each fig and spoon an equal amount of anchovy mixture into each fig. Arrange figs on a serving platter and drizzle olive oil overtop when ready to serve.
Linguine with Anchovy Sauce
Makes 4 servings
1 pound linguine
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
8 cups thinly sliced onions
2 tablespoons thinly sliced garlic
2 (2-ounce) tins flat anchovy fillets (not packed in salt), well drained
1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1. Boil linguine in a pot of lightly salted boiling water until al dente. Drain and save pasta water.
2. Meanwhile, heat olive oil and butter in a skillet and sauté the onions until caramelized, about 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic and anchovies and cook 2 to 3 more minutes.
3. Add the pasta to the skillet along with 1/2 cup pasta water. Season with salt, pepper and parsley. Toss pasta until combined and heated through.
4. Take pasta off of heat and top with breadcrumbs when ready to serve.
Anchovies and Green Beans
Makes 4 servings
1 (9-ounce) package frozen cut green beans
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
3 anchovy fillets, oil reserved
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1. Combine green beans, garlic, water and lemon juice in a pot. Cover and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring often, for about 10 minutes or until beans are fork tender. Drain
mixture into a serving bowl.
2. Meanwhile, mash anchovies with 1 tablespoon of oil from tin. Mix anchovies into green bean mixture and season with pepper. Serve warm.