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
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
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.