I finally found a tin of Salted Anchovies in the basement bulk produce shop at the St Lawrence Market.
I was so excited and aprehensive that I let them sit on my counter for 24 hours before I opened them. It was like pandora's box! What if they were bad? The River Cafe cookbook ( my bible) said they should be DRY. What if they weren't dry? So I just left them there for a day and kept looking at the tin but finding other things to do to avoid opening it. I really am a freak.
On my second day off I decided it was time to open them. I decided to cook them up in a River Cafe recipe "Penne con Pomodoro e Acciughe" (Penne with Tomato and Anchovy Sauce) Can I just say that beneath the title of the recipe it says "You must use salted anchovies from Greek, Spanish and Italian delicatesssens. Small tins of anchovies soaked in oil are not suitable" So it was time to find out... Why Not!?
Well, I opened the tin. And there they were. All packed away safe and dry and salty!
I was really excited to start. To get them ready to use, you have to rinse them quite well in cool water and then take the spine bone out. There are some tiny bones that run through the sides of the fish but they're so tiny that they just dissolve once you cook them. I wasn't positive of this until I finished so don't think I'm some kind of anchovy expert. Not yet anyway.
So this part took me a little while to figure out. I needed ten for my recipe and after 3 or 4 I had it down pat. I used a knife to wedge the fish open and then i flattened it out.
Once it's flat like this it's very easy to just grab the bone at the top and slowly and gently work it out of the meat. Sometimes it got caught and pulled the meat with it but I got pretty good at easing it out without ripping the fish. Here's my little de-boning station.
It took me about 20 minutes to complete this task. But it was well worth it. I think with practice I will get better at this. Once I was finished 'cleaning' the anchovies I was ready to cook.
Now the flavour of the anchovies was really suprising. I thought 10 seemed like alot but actually, you could hardly taste them. I mean, you could... but it wasn't a 'fishy' taste. I guess it's safe to say that fish should never really taste or smell 'fishy' if it does it's either bad or overcooked.
There is nothing more awful than overcooked fish. I didn't like cooked salmon until I had it cooked properly last year. Poached slowly in a flavoured broth until it was JUST cooked. The overcooked salmon I get in restaurants with the white globs of fat congealed on the surface did not compare. "Wow I actually like Salmon!" I thought.
So this project and hunt was definately a success! If you like savoury flavours then I highly reccomend picking up a tin of these the next time you are in a specialty food store or deli. They add a really delicious salty depth to your dish and do NOT taste fishy and disgusting like we all think they do.
Here's the recipe I used:
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
10 salted anchovies, washed and dried
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped
1 x 800g tin peeled plum tomatoes
150 ml double (heavy) cream
120g Parmesan, freshly grated
250g penne, rigatoni or conchiglie
* always use unsalted...always. you cant control the salt in your dish if you used salted butter. and it's often remixed after the unsalted butter is made and therefore not as fresh
Melt the oil and butter together in a large pan, and fry the garlic gently until light brown. Add the anchovies and rosemary and mash them into the oil, almost to a paste. The anchovies do not need to cook, they just melt; this only takes a few seconds.
Add the tomatoes to the paste and stir to break them up. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the liquid has evaporated and the tomatoes have become a sauce, anout 30-45 minutes. Finally, add the cream and bring to the boil stirring, then add most of the Parmesan.
Cook the pasta in a generous amount of salted water, then drain thoroughly. Stir into the sauce, and serve with the remaining Parmesan.
Unfortunately I forgot to take a picture of the final plating. I think this recipe would be just as good without the cream and all that Parmesan at the end... I'll try it next time. You know, cuz I don't want to die of heart failure at age 24.
Anyway. Here's to Acciughe Salate!
The book I cooked out of this time was The River Cafe Cookbook (1) by Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers
Posted by amy at 3.10.10