A cured fish packed in salt and oil or water, anchovy fillets are a seafood 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 and an age-old process of salt brine, anchovy fillets are a powerhouse of savory and rich flavors. You may know them best as an ingredient for Caesar dressing, but there are many other ways to incorporate them. Anchovy fillets also have a significant amount of minerals and protein, making them a popular ingredient in healthy cooking.
How are canned anchovies produced?
Coastal European countries like Spain and Italy are known for producing the best canned anchovies in the world, especially top brands like Agostino Recca, Rizzoli, and Ortiz. Anchovies get their characteristically pungent taste from a salt brine curing method that has been used in Europe for centuries. The Ancient Romans used it to make garum, a fermented fish sauce that was widely used in their cuisine. Shortly 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 flatten the fish while also pressing out any excess oil and water.
What dishes can I use anchovies in?
Today, canned anchovies are used in a long list of dishes, a testament to their ability to transform basic ingredients into a powerhouse of complementing flavors. You can add anchovy fillets 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. Anchovies can also be rubbed on chicken for extra seasoning or added to bitter greens for a balanced contrast. For a simple and easy way to season meat, combine canned anchovies with garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, and parsley.