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Anchovies


snowangel
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The females in our house love anchovies. On pizza, on salads, in salad dressings, in pasta sauces, and more.

I generally buy the ones packed in oil because they are readily available. The ones I get come in small jars and I think they are from Spain; they are cheaper, firmer and seem to have better texture than the ones in the little rectangular pull-top tins.

However, a close friend called today and said that she has received a lovely gift basket filled with all sorts of expensive treats (olive oil, vinegars, etc.) and it includes a tin (she said it was rather "large" -- I'm not sure what that means, but she did indicate it's bigger than a can of tuna but shorter than a can of soup) of salt packed anchovies, which she will more than gladly donate to our household.

So, once I get this can, just what do I do? Can I assume that they are ready to be used once the salt is wiped/rinsed (which?) off? How does one store these?

I don't need recipes, I need to know how to treat these wonderful little fish.

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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If the tin is the kind I'm familiar with, although flat, it's quite big and has a zillion dried anchovies in it. I clean off a big handful at a time -- rinse off the salt, pat dry, filet them, discarding bones, tail, stuff, and then pack them into a jar with good olive oil -- refrigerate, and use within a month. The ones I don't clean and put in olive oil, I put into a plastic container packed down with the salt they came with, and keep in refrigerator.

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Good question. There's a stack of canned anchovies packed in salt (the cans aren't all that big) at Wild Edibles in Grand Central with a big sign saying something like "Yes! The salt packed anchovies are here!"

I know I have eaten these in tapas bars in Spain, but I am struggling to recall whether they were exceptionally good.

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By repute the anchovies in salt are better then the one in oil. I leave them in the salt, but you must keep them in an air tight container as they dry out.

To use, wipe of the excess salt (or wash), I then soak them in milk for several hours to get rid of even more salt. Sometimes I remember to change the milk as well. If they are intact (the best of all) pat the fish dry, place on its tummy and press down softly, turn fish over grab tail and pull out the backbone + ribs ( as the first bit of backbone seperates from the flesh, put a finger on it to help you pull out the backbone). The flesh is now ready. Do no throw away the backbones, these can be deep fried for a few minutes and make one of the best Tapa around.

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Adam, I like fried anchovy bones too! :wink:

I usually soak in water for an hour or less. Adam's use of milk is the right way to do it. But I love salt so am lazy about this.

"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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First, I love good anchovies. Admittedly, most of the ones found in the US are miserable little examples fit only to make sauce or put on second rate pizza. By and large, the ones in small tins are far worse than the ones packed in jars, but that's a generality and the worst I've purchased in the states were in a jar and purchased in a shop whose wares are of the highest quality. I've heard that salt packed anchovies are usually superior to oil packed ones, but I've not had the opportunity to use them. For this reason however, I would wash only as many as needed right away and repack the others adding more salt in needed, in an airtight glass container. Although I have not used the salt packed anchovies, I have kept sausage casings in salt for years without spoilage. If you like anchovies, the tin should not last for years.

Generally speaking, the anchovies I've been served and bought in France and Spain, most notably Spain, have been far superior to those I've found here shipped from Italy. Without a doubt, the best anchovies in my mind, are those referred to as bocarones. (sp?) These are whitish and packed in vinegar. They have a much shorter bottle life and are usually sold in bulk. Again some are meatier than others.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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The lactic acid in milk cleans out the salt much more thoroughly than just water. Same reason one soaks kidneys etc in milk.

edit:

Don't question Saint Mario. He knows.

"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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The lactic acid in milk cleans out the salt much more thoroughly than just water. Same reason one soaks kidneys etc in milk.

edit:

Don't question Saint Mario. He knows.

Is that the reason why? Go figure. I just figured that milk was a buffered solution and therefore less harsh on the soaked article. Had no idea anybody else did it.

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Yup.

"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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Yup.

"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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This was in a recent email from Beatrice Ughi, head of Esperya USA:

"Our Anchovies from Cetara, a little village near more glamorous Amalfi, in Campania are packed in salt and ready to fillet, the only anchovy worth talking about. You fillet it, under a little stream of water in the sink, opening it in two halves with your thumb like a little book whose pages have stuck together. Remove the backbone, scrap away the few bits of remaining innards, and you are left with two gorgeous fillets. Too much work? The whole thing takes a minute. The flesh is substantial, the texture meaty, the flavor pungent and fresh."

She also described her favorite childhood snack, bread with butter and anchovy. Even if you never order anything from them (and right now they have some great sea salt that's about $4 for a quart container), get on the mailing list so youcan read Beatrice's emails.

I like the salt-packed ones better, but they are hard to find (Adam, thanks for the tip on keeping in air-tight container...I've kept them in the tin in the fridge and they do dry out). More often I buy the larger cans of oil-packed anchovies, usually from Morocco but sometimes Italian, and keep what I don't use right away stored under olive oil the fridge.

Even if you don't like the taste of straight anchovy (and what the hell's wrong with you, anyway?), add them to stew, sauce, or anything with a strong, savory flavor and you get a subtle complexity that adds more than seems possible from the little fish.

Jim

olive oil + salt

Real Good Food

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You fillet it, under a little stream of water in the sink, opening it in two halves with your thumb like a little book whose pages have stuck together. Remove the backbone, scrap away the few bits of remaining innards, and you are left with two gorgeous fillets. Too much work? The whole thing takes a minute.

And it takes thirty seconds to eat an anchovy. :biggrin:

But she's right. Anything worth doing is worth doing the best way.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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They often have salt packed anchovies in the meat/cheese/olive deli at my local Whole Foods. I am not much of an anchovy connoisseur, but I thought they were good. It's nice to be able to get just a few to see if you like them.

They also have capers packed in salt (mmm) and the guy behind the counter recommended the milk soaking method for both.

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Too much work? The whole thing takes a minute.

And it takes thirty seconds to eat an anchovy. :biggrin:

Bet you can't eat just one.

"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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They also have capers packed in salt (mmm) and the guy behind the counter recommended the milk soaking method for both.

I don't think milk soaking for capers is necessary. I even use them unsoaked if whatever I'm making needs the salt, which picks up a lot of flavor from the capers.

I'm not getting a kickback, but I'd recommend Esperya again for salt-packed capers...theirs are from Pantelleria and cost about $13 or so for a half-kilo bag...and they keep pretty much forever.

Jim

olive oil + salt

Real Good Food

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I don't think milk soaking for capers is necessary. I even use them unsoaked if whatever I'm making needs the salt, which picks up a lot of flavor from the capers.

:unsure::smile: Me too. :laugh:

"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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In the NY/NJ area I've seen these tins, 500g or 1000g (leave 'em to your kids in the will). I've bought the 500g and agree about adding salt and repacking them in a glass or plastic container. I bought my last one about a year ago and don't notice any change in flavor or consistancy. I don't soak, I just rinse them off and filet them. A great hordovere(sp) is a thin slice of bagette, sweet butter, slice of sweet onion and a filet of anchovy. :wub::wub:

I'm a NYC expat. Since coming to the darkside, as many of my freinds have said, I've found that most good things in NYC are made in NJ.

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A great  hordovere(sp) is a thin slice of bagette, sweet butter, slice of sweet onion and a filet of anchovy.

In our house it's often been a piece of roasted pepper on a slice of baguette with olive oil and anchovy and sometimes just the anchovy filet with olive oil. Goat cheese also works with either the anchovy or the roast pepper and oil.

By the way, and I'm not trying to be a smart ass, but they're hors d'oeuvres if anyone's interested. Literally it means out(side) of the works or something that's not part of the real meal. French chefs now serve amuse bouches instead. Don't ask me why. I suppose they found out Americans can make hors d'oeuvres at home.

:biggrin:

Amuse bouches are things to amuse you mouth while you wait for dinner.

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Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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