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The Dish on Anchovies


I love anchovies, though to a lot of people they are an acquired taste. Anchovies are found in oceans all over the world, but here at Choices Markets we typically source them from the seas of Europe and the Mediterranean. Fresh anchovies are nutritionally loaded and extremely delicious, but can be quite rare to find here in our BC fish counters. Therefore, we’ll keep talking about easier to get a hold of anchovy paste, fish sauce and canned varieties.

Traditionally, salted anchovies were a high seas trading commodity, and that’s how spinoff recipes were created and disseminated around the world. Even though they are quite strong in taste, canned anchovies can be a good gateway fish for anyone trying to increase their fish consumption, or even just diving in to the world of seafood. The trick is using them in less obvious ways. Just think about Caesar salad. It’s one of the most popular salads in the world and it has anchovies as its base, but you’d never think something fishy was going on there.

One of the keys to using whole anchovies as an ingredient in your sauces and dressings is to maintain equilibrium with your other ingredients. Wine, butter, fresh herbs, citrus, vinegar and more are pair well with anchovies. To incorporate the anchovy flavour in a less obvious manner, grind up the anchovy fine and then melt them in a low temperature oil or butter. A good place to start for anyone experimenting would be vinaigrettes and dips. Flavoured butters might be your next step, eventually moving on to seasoning pasta sauces or even meat dishes. As you learn to appreciate the flavour more and more, simply increase the amount you’re using. It all depends on what your palette can take.

Of course, the next step from there is boosting your fish chowders and clear soups with that wonderful anchovy flavour. Once you’re a true lover, you can go with some classic anchovy applications like using anchovy as a garnish for pizza or potato salad. If you’re a true anchovy connoisseur like me, you can make a fantastic sandwich with sweet onions and whole anchovies on fresh focaccia bread. Don’t forget a splash of balsamic (and maybe some heartburn medication)! Anchovies may be an acquired taste, but it’s one worth gaining one little fish at a time.