When I told my Greek-American friend Tom that I was going to include marinated anchovies in the recipes, he snorted and pointed out that even here, on the coast of California, it’s a bit of an occasion when we find fresh anchovies in the fish store. Still, find them we sometimes do, and I’ve also seen instructions for marinating good-quality salted anchovies, which are now available in specialty stores, so here are recipes for both fresh and salted.
This is something that I consider a real treat, and not something I would normally take on except in small quantity on special occasion, because it’s a picky little process—what I call old-world grandmother-style cooking—but if you want them, this is how you get them. You’ll want good bread with this, either to lay an anchovy fillet or two onto, or to sop up the marinade on your plate and balance out the tartness of the dish.
Marinated Fresh Anchovies
- 1 lb fresh, whole anchovies
- 1 cup white wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2–3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
- Clean the fish. Cut or pull off the heads of the fish and pull out the innards. Rinse them well. Use your thumb and fingers to carefully remove the spine and pin bones, separating the fish into two fillets. Rinse them again in cold water and dry them carefully.
- Place them, skin-side down, in a single layer in a flat-bottomed, nonreactive container. Pour over the vinegar, water, and ½ teaspoon salt. Cover and refrigerate for several—at least four—hours. The fillets will turn white and opaque. (They can be kept refrigerated several days.)
At least two hours before serving, drain off all the vinegar marinade, rinse the anchovies in cold water, and pat dry. Arrange them skin-side down, on a serving dish large enough to hold them in one or two layers, with enough depth to hold some oil. Sprinkle with remaining ½ teaspoon salt, oil, garlic, and parsley, using a little more oil if you do more than one layer, but keeping to the same quantity of other ingredients. Let it marinate in the refrigerator for at least two hours. It will keep like this for up to one week.
To serve, let the dish come to room temperature and serve the anchovies with bread.
Salt-Packed Marinated Anchovies
I have to confess to not having tried out this salt-packed recipe. It comes, slightly modified by me, from a recipe by Susanna Hoffman, which I found in her book The Olive and the Caper. If you try it, I’d love to hear from you, about your success, or lack thereof.
- 18 whole anchovies
- 2 ½ tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
- fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley, chopped for garnish
- Clean the anchovies gently under running water, rubbing the salt off with your fingers. Pinch the head off each one and carefully remove the backbones, making two separate fillets out of each one. Rinse again and lay them out on a double thickness of paper towel, patting them dry.
- Lay the fillets out in a flat-bottomed container or on a platter that will allow them to sit in the marinade, and pour the oil, lemon juice, and vinegar over them. Let them marinate in the refrigerator for at least two hours. Garnish with the chopped parsley before serving.
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