What Are Anchovies?
Anchovies are small, slender, oily, saltwater fish often marinated in salt and vegetable oil. In Spain, they are also very popular marinated in vinegar. Fresh anchovies ( boquerones in Spanish ) also serve as ingredients for countless traditional recipes. Dried salted anchovies are also very popular in Asian cuisine, where they add a strong umami flavour especially in broths.
HOW TO MARINATE ANCHOVIES IN OLIVE OIL?
It is necessary to choose the largest and freshest anchovies, ideally just fished out of the sea. Anchovies are usually stripped of head and entrails, laid out in several layers lined with coarse sea salt and aged in the cold for 4 to 8 weeks, depending on the size of the fillets. The salt draws most of the water from the anchovies and changes both the structure and the taste of the anchovies, similar to dried ham.
The anchovies are then cleaned - the spine and small bones removed, washed, carefully dried and immersed in quality olive oil. They last in the cold for several months. Then they are usually preserved. As anchovies are very delicate, they cannot be exposed to very high temperatures, and must therefore be kept preserved in cold temperatures unlike other canned fish.
The highest quality anchovies often reach astronomical prices and are considered to be a luxurious, but at first glance somewhat poor, starter in the best Spanish restaurants.
Marinated anchovies in salt, olive oil, garlic and flat leaf parsley
HOW TO USE ANCHOVIES?
In Spanish cuisine, salted anchovy fillets are most often used on their own or as a premium topping of various salads. They are served either flat or shaped into rolls, sometimes with some capers inside.
The combination with olives or other pickled vegetables is very popular. Anchovies are often used to decorate pintxos, small canapés of various combinations - from the simplest tortilla de patatas to elaborate multi-layered creations, in which you can find mayonnaise, shrimps, eggs, olives, roasted peppers and anchovy in one sandwich. A spread made of roasted peppers and anchovies is also popular.
In Italian cuisine anchovies are used in various recipes with pasta, where they complement and deepen the taste of the sauces. Anchovy sauces also often accompany meat dishes especially with parsley, garlic, tomatoes, capers, etc.
Interesting fact : Spain was an anchovy superpower during the Roman Empire, which supplied the whole empire with garum fish sauce. Garum was a sauce that condensed the taste of salted, fermented anchovies into a strong fish sauce very similar to the fish sauce used in East Asian cuisine.
But anchovies became most famous as pizza topping and became part of popular Italian culture.
Pizza with anchovies
HOW TO PICKLE ANCHOVIES IN VINEGAR?
As always with anchovies, use the freshest fish possible. After the anchovies are cleaned of their heads and entrails, they are immersed in brine for 2-3 hours and left in the cold. They are then dried and left to marinate for about 2 hours (in Spanish it is even called "boiled") in vinegar.
The meat becomes white and solid thanks to the acidic environment. The fillets are then dried again, stripped of the spine and the remaining bones. Then just add some freshly chopped garlic and flat leaf parsley and drizzle some olive oil all over the dish and serve.
BOQUERONES EN VINAGRE - Pickled Anchovies in vinegar, olive oil, garlic and flat leaf parsley
RECIPES WITH FRESH ANCHOVIES
Fresh anchovies are called boquerones in Spanish. Judging by the endless number of recipes with this tiny fish, you could consider it a national fish in Spain. For example, the people of Málaga are so in love with fried anchovies that they call themselves "boquerones" (anchovies!).
Fried Anchovies in Batter with Lemon
The most famous recipe that has conquered the entire Spanish coast are fried anchovies. They can be eaten whole or as fillets, fried or not, they can be coated in plain or coarse flour or batter, they can be marinated in lemon or fried fresh. Fried anchovies are used to make boquerones en escabeche.
Fried anchovies preserved in spicy vinegar pickle - boquerones en escabeche
You can also find anchovies in the delicious cazuela de boquerones al limón ( anchovy casserole with lemon ), in which fillets of fresh anchovies are cooked over a low flame, and fried in a strong sauce of olive oil and lemon juice.
The Arab heritage is reflected in the so-called Cazuela moruna, in which anchovy fillets are cooked on a layer of lightly spiced and slightly fried vegetables.
Anchovies can also be baked on top of potatoes with olive oil, garlic and parsley. As it has traditionally been the food of the poor, anchovies also appear in various sopas, in soups thickened with aged bread. An example is the Andalusian specialty soup sopa amarilla de boquerones.
Traditional Andalusian Recipe - cazuela de boquerones
Salted and dried anchovies are a curiosity that plays a key role, especially in Korean cuisine. They are used in a spicy sauce as a killer snack with beer and as an essential ingredient of strong broths for various recipes.
Dried anchovies popular in Asian cuisine.
Don't forget to come back to our Jamon Blog soon. Next time we will be showing you How to Clean Anchovies & What's the Difference Between Anchovies and Sardines!