I have never tried anchovies by themselves but I have assumed that I will not love them. There is just something about them that doesn’t sit right with me. However, many people love them and I have recently found out that anchovies are one of the main ingredients to make Caesar Salad Dressing (one of my favorites). So, I think I may need to reconsider my unfounded claim. But, first I want to know more about them.
What are anchovies?
Anchovies are a small, oily saltwater fish that is commonly found in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. These small fish are popularly consumed by humans but they are also used as bait for larger fish. Anchovies have a mild flavor when they are fresh. However, when eaten from a can the anchovies have an overwhelming flavor and smell that is off-putting to many.
How are anchovies prepared?
Anchovies can be prepared in several ways. One of which is demonstrated with the following Martha Stewart recipe.
- 32 fresh anchovies or 16 sardines (about 1 1/4 pounds), cleaned
- 1 cup toasted unseasoned dry breadcrumbs
- Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
- Extra-virgin olive oil, for frying
- Fresh lemon wedges, for serving
- Rinse fish and shake lightly to dry slightly, leaving some water on to help breadcrumbs adhere. Spread breadcrumbs in a shallow bowl or pie dish; season with salt and pepper.
- In a large cast-iron or another heavy skillet, heat 1/4 inch oil over high until shimmering. (Test by dropping a breadcrumb; if it sizzles and floats instantly, the oil is hot enough for frying.) Working in batches so as not to crowd, dredge fish in breadcrumbs and lay flat in skillet. Reduce heat to medium and cook until fish are golden brown on bottom, about 3 minutes. Flip fish, one at a time, and continue to cook until tender when pressed in center and flesh is opaque, 2 to 3 minutes more. Using a slotted spatula, transfer fish to the prepared baking sheet; sprinkle it with salt. Between batches, increase heat and strain out browned crumbs, or wipe out the pan as needed.
Anchovies are also included as ingredients in foods such as salad dressing, pizza toppings, and included in pasta dishes. A good example of another Martha Stewart recipe using anchovies is as follows:
Pizza with Anchovies, Red Onion, and Oregano
- 1/4 cup Fresh Tomato Sauce for Pizza
- Large-Batch Whole-Wheat Pizza Dough
- Garlic, chopped
- Fresh oregano
- Red chili flakes
- Red onion
- Grated Parmesan
- Olive oil
- Place a pizza stone or inverted baking sheet on the rack in the top third of the oven.
- Heat oven to 450 degrees.
- Transfer stretched dough to parchment.
- Spread sauce on dough. Scatter garlic, oregano, and chili flakes. Top with anchovies, red onion, and Parmesan. Drizzle with olive oil.
- Transfer to the oven: Slide parchment onto stone or baking sheet. Bake for 13 to 15 minutes, until the cheese is bubbly and the bottom is crisp.
How should anchovies be stored?
Canned anchovies (unopened) can live on a pantry shelf until their expiration date. Once the can is opened, the anchovies should be transferred to an airtight container, sealed, and refrigerated for up to a couple of days. Any uneaten anchovies should be disposed of after that. Fresh anchovies should also be refrigerated but brought to room temperature prior to use.
Potential health problem
Sometimes people that consume whole anchovies end up suffering from amnesic shellfish poisoning.