Anchovies have a bad rap. I’m not sure why that is the case. Granted, they have a pretty rancid odor about them, but is that a reason to hate on them.
When we were in Spain a few years ago, our hotel in Barçelona had anchovies out on the daily buffets. Of course, our group tended to stay away from them in general. Who wouldn’t after all the bad things said about this poor fish?
Being the adventurous eater, I decided to give them a try one day. Much to my complete surprise, they actually tasted pretty good. In speaking to one of our guides, he said something to the effect, when anchovies are cooked well, they taste good. But, most people outside of Spain haven’t been taught how to cook them correctly.
I will admit I have shied away from those little fish. The smell, plus never being shown how to cook them, kept me away from using an anchovy in anything. That is, until last night.
In the most recent issue of Cooks Illustrated, it had a pasta and shrimp recipe with anchovies as an ingredient. The picture was so enticing I decided to give it a try, anchovies and all. Last week, while shopping, I bought the ingredients, which also included capers, another ingredient I don’t use often.
The dish, when finished, was delicious! The anchovy added a little extra oomph to the dish, just as the article had said. Be forewarned though, getting a couple of those little buggers out of the jar was the most challenging thing of the whole recipe. They are bottled in a lot of oil, and packed as tight as sardines. If anyone has a life hack on getting them out easy, please let me know.
The anchovies added such an accent to the pasta dish, I used them again this evening. This time I added a couple to my hamburger mixture. Again, that fish added an extra layer of flavor to the burger without tasting “fishy,” as I had feared it might.
Bottom line is, don’t be afraid to try adding a little anchovy to a dish if it makes sense. I’ll probably add to some of my soups, sauces, and burgers in the future as they basically melt into the mixture like butter.
Go ahead, add anchovies to your grocery list. Live on the edge a little. The worst that might happen is you won’t like it. The best that might happen is an old dish might get a second life. Enjoy!