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Anchovy is a small-sized, green colored ocean fish acclaimed for its strong flavor. This fish, an essential ingredient for many seafood dishes, mostly inhabits the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans. The fish tastes best when brined and is a basic ingredient of a number of fish sauces, including Worcestershire sauce and Remoulade. Canned anchovy, preserved in oil or brine are used for domestic purposes. The pasted form of the fish is also used in a number dishes. Popular anchovy recipes include those for sauces, dips, spreads, salad dressings, and main course dishes with vegetables. Anchovies are not only food for human beings; but primarily food for larger fish, sea animals and birds.


History of Anchovy Recipes

Anchovy was used in food preparations for human consumption first in the Mediterranean cuisines, specifically in the Greek cuisines since historical times. Anchovies were used as sandwich filling in the French cuisine since ages.


Culinary Use of Anchovies

Anchovies are used to make a number of accompaniment and main course seafood dishes. Anchovies are used in making a number of fish sauces, dips and spreads. Apart from being consumed in the uncooked state because of their aphrodisiacal qualities, they were also used for making a traditional sauce called garum which was prepared by fermenting the fish. Anchovies were mostly used by different dishes primarily as flavoring agents. This is the reason they are a flavoring base for many fish sauces, spreads, and dips. Their primary usage as a flavoring agent explains their usage in small quantities. Anchovy in the paste form is used to flavor a number of dishes. Fried and pickled anchovies are prepared in many cuisines. In the South East Asian cuisines anchovies are dried for usage in a number of recipes. Stock made with anchovies is a common base for many fish dishes of this region. Anchovies may be cooked in a number of ways, the most common methods being steaming, grilling, and frying. Anchovy meatballs are also a popular preparation of the fish. Due to their very pleasant flavor, anchovies are used as a garnish for pizzas and are also included in the Caesar salad and Worcestershire sauce.


Popular Anchovy Recipes

Anchovy is used in a number of recipes that are quite popular in a number of cuisines. Some of these recipes are discussed below:


  • Caeser salad- anchovies are not directly used in the traditional recipe of this salad, though some modern versions may use small pieces of the fish. The traditional recipe of this salad smells of anchovies because of the usage of Worcestershire sauce which contains anchovy as an ingredient. The inventor of this salad, Caeser Cardini did not prescribe the usage of anchovy as an ingredient in the salad. The sauce is used as a seasoning for the salad which is made with romaine lettuce, cheese, eggs and croutons. The other ingredient used for flavoring this accompaniment dish includes lemon juice. The salad is prepared in a base of olive oil.


  • Worcestershire Sauce- This is a commercial preparation invented by Lee and Perrins and commercially sold by them under the Lee & Perrins brand in 1837. Its preparation is a trade secret of the company. This sauce mainly consists of brined anchovies. The other probable ingredients of this sauce are tamarind, chilies, shallots, molasses and sugar.


  • Remoulade sauce- this is a popular mayonnaise-based yellowish French sauce, originally served with meat but later with a number of seafood dishes. This savory accompaniment dish is seasoned with paprika, capers, curry, finely chopped pickles and other ingredients. Some versions of this sauce are also made with an aioli base and exclude anchovies.


  • Green Goddess dressing – This is a creamy American salad dressing with finely chopped green colored herb seasonings sprinkled over it. A famous salad dressing, which was invented by a chef at the Palace hotel, San Francisco, in honor of George Arliss the actor of Green Goddess, this salad is made with a blended base of mayonnaise and sour cream. Anchovies are an important inclusion and other ingredients used include chervil, chives and lemon juice with pepper and tarragon seasonings.


  • Sambal- the Javanese version of the sambal, a spicy sauce made of a variety of chili peppers is made using the anchovy as an ingredient. The other common ingredients used in this condiment are chili peppers.


Cooking Anchovy Recipes

Anchovy of three types, fresh, salted, or canned may be used for making anchovy recipes. As the recipes demand the specific ingredient, one variety of anchovy cannot be substituted for another variety. Prior to cooking, the canned anchovy is to be washed and the bone removed. If whole anchovies are to be used, the fillet is to be removed and cleaned off the tail and the dorsal bone. The skin may be kept if desired. The salt on the fish can be removed by keeping the fish soaked in cold water for sometime. Anchovies that are removed from the can should be kept refrigerated in enough oil in an enclosed container and used within a couple of months of opening the seal. Anchovy recipes are made with the anchovy in different forms which may be whole, small pieces, or a paste. Anchovies are preferably cooked over low heat as high heat is only going to toughen them up and also induce a disagreeable flavor to these fish which are otherwise liked for their flavor.


Health Benefits of Anchovies

Consumption of the anchovy benefits the human health in a number of ways:

  • The polyunsaturated fats in the fish are healthy for the heart as they help in lowering the levels of bad cholesterol in the human body and also protect the human heart from other diseases.


  • Anchovies are rich in proteins that are vital for the nourishment of young children.


  • They are rich in vitamins E and D and being small fish they contain less environmental toxins.


Ingredients Related to Anchovies

Sardines are commonly substituted for anchovies but it is advisable that the sardines used resemble the anchovy in both size and form. The anchovies are more strongly flavored than sardines. Nutritionally both may be considered as being of similar nutritional worth. Both are oily fish and are rich in the Omega fatty acid content.


Buying and Storing Anchovies

The anchovy is sold in different forms. Fresh, canned and dried anchovies are all available commercially. Anchovy paste in the tubed form is available in the markets. When buying anchovy there are certain tips to bear in mind as discussed here:


  • Though anchovy paste looks an easy-to-use ingredient for many recipes in comparison to whole anchovies which need to cleaned, boned and generally prepared for usage, it is always better to opt for the fish paste as a secondary choice. This is because it is not as flavorful as the whole fish and also made from some inferior parts of the fish. The best part of the anchovy can only be obtained in the fresh or canned versions of the fish.


  • When buying whole anchovies, considering flavor, the salted version should take precedence over the oiled non- salted versions.


  • Packaging is another aspect that needs to be paid attention to while purchasing anchovies. It is better to always opt for the fish which are stored in glass or transparent containers as one can clearly see the contents and assess its quality. Storing anchovies necessitates transferring the fish from the opened can to a container which can be sealed. The fish should be put in the container and covered with an excess of olive oil to prevent spoilage and the container sealed after that.