Cooking with Anchovies

Cooking with Anchovies

These tiny, bold-flavored fish are most often available in their preserved form in tins or packed dried. As for anchovy paste, they are available in tubes.

When selecting anchovies, go for whole anchovies packed in salt. They have the best flavor and are usually bigger and meatier than oil-packed anchovies. If you can't find salt-packed anchovies, glass jars of oil-packed fillets are the next best choice. Choose the jar with the meatiest fillets. Tins of oil-packed anchovies, which don't allow you to see what you're buying, are a poor third choice. Finally, buy anchovy paste only as a last resort for convenience. Anchovy paste is essentially the leftovers of the anchovy production plant packed into tubes.

When storing anchovies, transfer any unused anchovies to a container after opening. Cover with at least 1 inch of olive oil, seal the container and refrigerate for up to 1 year. To fillet whole, salt-packed anchovies, rinse off the salt with cold water. Working over a colander in the sink under slow running water, hold the fish belly-up and run a finger from the head down through the tail to separate the fillets and expose the backbone. Lift the backbone away from the fillet and discard. Soak the fillets in cold water for 20 to 30 minutes to reduce saltiness. Dry on paper towels before using or storing. Store as you would un-filleted anchovies.

To cook, keep the heat low and cook the anchovies slowly, so that they dissolve gradually. Avoid high heat, which hardens anchovies and gives them a harsh, bitter flavor.

If anchovies are unavailable, for convenience, substitute anchovy paste for mashed anchovies. It saves mashing time and cleanup. Use 1/2 teaspoon anchovy paste in place of each anchovy fillet. Refrigerate unused anchovy paste in its tube for up to 6 months. For a vegetarian substitute, use 1/2 teaspoon soy sauce or vegetarian Worcestershire sauce mixed with 1/2 teaspoon dried dulse sea vegetable flakes in place of each anchovy fillet.

More Cooking Guide

Visitors Currently Online: 10