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What are anchovies?

A cured fish packed in salt and oil or water, anchovy fillets are related to the herring and are fished at certain times of the year from the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean. Thanks to a naturally high amount of glutamates, anchovy fillets are a powerhouse of savory and rich flavors. They also have a significant amount of minerals and protein, making anchovy fillets a popular ingredient in healthy cooking. Read More

It gets a characteristically pungent taste from an age-old curing method that has been used in Europe for centuries. Shorty after the fish is caught, the anchovies are cleaned and washed in a salt brine and then left to dry. Next, the anchovy fillets are stacked in “seasoning towers” and left to cure for two months. The weighted towers help to pack in and flattened the fish while also pressing out any excess oil and water.

Curing anchovy fillets in a sea salt brine is a time-honored technique that can be traced back to Roman times. In fact, it was an essential ingredient in Garum, a fermented fish sauce that was widely used in the cuisine of ancient Rome. Today, canned anchovies are used in a long list of dishes, a testament to its powerful ability to transform basic ingredients into a powerhouse of complementing flavors.

How are anchovies used?

Coastal European countries like Spain and Italy are known for producing the best anchovies in the world. This grocery gourmet food is essential in every refrigerator, especially top brands like Agostino Recca, Rizzoli, and Ortiz.

Convenient and mess-free, jarred anchovies packed in sea salt and extra virgin olive oil are a must-have for your pantry. You can add one to a sandwich or salad for a punch of flavor or grind it into a paste as the key ingredient in classic sauces like Caesar dressing and remoulade. Before using canned anchovies in recipes, rinse them in water to wash off excess salt. Then soak in water for 15 to 30 minutes until they become tender and plump. Next, carefully fillet the anchovy to remove the bones and serve in your favorite recipes.

For Alison Roman, author of Dining In, anchovies are the special ingredient she includes in every savory dish: “I use the anchovies as a very secret ingredient that you might not know is there, but it’s great for imparting a lot of flavor.” She likes to sauté a few minced anchovy fillets in olive oil and red pepper flakes, which makes the perfect base for a flavorful tomato sauce. Anchovies can also be rubbed on chicken for extra seasoning or added to bitter greens for a balanced contrast. Be generous when cooking with anchovies because the heat mellows the flavor.

What popular dishes use anchovies?

Because of their flavor intensity, canned anchovies are often the mystery ingredient in popular sauces, dressings, and marinades. For a simple and easy way to season meat, combine canned anchovies with garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, and parsley. When you saute them in butter, crispy anchovies can also ramp up the flavor of everyday food like scrambled eggs and salads. If you whip together anchovies and butter in the blender, it makes a decadent and rich compound butter that goes perfectly with steak and potatoes.

Where to buy anchovies?

Along with an extensive selection of made in Italy products, Supermarket Italy gives you the convenience of choosing from a large selection of the finest anchovy products from Italy and Spain. Shop Supermarket Italy today and take your culinary skills to the next level with anchovies, the secret weapon of choice for chefs and gourmands.