Love them or loathe them, anchovies can bring a deep savoury flavour to your favourite pasta, salad dressings and sauce recipes.
Use anchovies to make anchovy butter to serve with fish, anchovy toast, tapenade or the Italian bagna cauda – a mixture of butter or olive oil, garlic, basil and anchovy fillets mashed into a sauce and served hot with vegetables as a type of fondue. Anchovies have an affinity with red meat, especially lamb. They also form the basis of condiments such as anchovy essence, Worcestershire sauce, Asian fish sauce and Patum Peperium.
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Fresh anchovies are an oily fish that look and taste similar to sardines. They vary in size and can be bought either fresh or cured. Cured anchovies were originally left whole and packed in salt, but now they tend to be boned, cleaned and preserved in salt or oil and sold in cans or jars. Fresh anchovies don't travel well so are best eaten in the Mediterranean. They're not easy to find in the UK because there isn’t a great demand for them, but try Italian or Spanish delis. Otherwise buy them cured or preserved - supermarkets do a limited range but delis tend to sell a wider range.
Anchovies that are packed in oil need to be drained before use. You may want to soak the salted variety in milk for a while to get rid of any excess saltiness. The oil from a tin of anchovies can be used for cooking, if you want extra anchovy flavour.