The salty anchovy

Anchovies enhance 
and improve the flavour of 
so many popular recipes.
 
I'm really partial to an anchovy. Not just one or two, mind you. When I open a jar I find it hard to resist eating the whole lot. The little oily fishes are so aggressively salty and full of flavour that eating them straight from the tin might not be for everyone, but I just can't resist!
 
Due to their oily nature, anchovies must be eaten soon after catching or preserved. They respond particularly well to preservation, developing the much sought after umami or savoury taste. That flavour, as well as the myriad ways they can be preserved and stored, have seen anchovies rise to prominence in the food of just about every country in whose waters they swim.
 
In Japan, anchovies are cleaned and dried then used in Japanese stocks or dashi. In Korea and in much of Southeast Asia, anchovies are a fundamental ingredient in the ubiquitous fish sauce, which is a key component of much of their food. In the Mediterranean, anchovies are sometimes pickled in vinegar and called boquerones in Spain, where they are a popular tapas (see Rachel Recommends).
 
By far the most common form in which we see anchovies is packed in oil or salt. They have been brined and cured, then placed in the oil or salt for preservation. It is these anchovies that we refer to in ingredients lists and use to enhance so much of our food. The distinctive tang and flavour is an essential part of all sorts of recipes, providing a unique depth. From Caesar salad to Worcestershire sauce, salsa verde and so much more, the hugely transformative effect that anchovies have on food much belies their tiny size.
 
A Caesar salad is a true classic, a generous dish that is perfect to serve to friends this bank holiday. The anchovies in the dressing bring the zing, then the Worcestershire, Tabasco and mustard give it the perfect punch.
 

Anchovy Recipes: 

 

Rachel recommends

It may be my Icelandic mother that gave me my taste for that most Nordic of foods, pickled herring. I have always adored their sharp-sweet flavour and soft, tender flesh. While in the past I had to get my fix buying herring that was pickled in Scandinavia, I'm thrilled that I can now buy herring caught and pickled in Ireland.
 
Kirsti O'Kelly runs Silver Darlings, an Irish pickled-herring company. Kirsti is from Finland and uses traditional methods and recipes passed on through her grandmother and her mother. Yet she also pickles herring using her own deliciously innovative ingredients and flavours. The beetroot and horseradish herring is so gorgeous and flavourful, it's a real favourite of mine.
 
Silver Darlings sell at various farmers' markets around Ireland including Mahon Point and Limerick, as well as a number of shops including Avoca, Fallon & Byrne, Morton's and more.

Shaneod Aug 04, 2014 News