Salted anchovies are Manna from heaven, at least to me. To the Romans anchovies made the base for Garum sauce a staple of their cuisine. All over the world Anchovies are consumed with enthusiasm, in Worcester Sauce in the UK, as Kozhuva in Kerala, or as n??c m?m in Vietnam.
Eaten fresh, dried, preserved in oil, brine or salt and used in a million and one ways, from a simple apero, on pizza (natch), and to enrich meat stews a supply of anchovies, nam pla, or Worcester sauce is an essential in any serious cook’s kitchen.
However a ready supply of anchovies doesn’t come cheap and the quality can be dodgy if you are not careful. The answer is to source and preserve your own anchovies, a frugal approach that will be a step up from anything you could buy from a supermarket.
Wandering through Super U are local supermarket last week I found fresh anchovies , in good condition for 5.95 Euro’s a kilo, OK if you want to give these little silver jewels away at that price I’m your man.
Back home a couple of hours late, no point in hanging around when it comes to fish, I am well underway in salting the lot.
To salt anchovies you need a couple of large glass jars, or any other container which is non-reactive with salt. Behead the anchovies, split and remove the guts, you can look up on the internet some fancy way of removing the heads to leave a nice finish, personally I just wield a sharp kitchen knife. Put some coarse sea salt in the bottom of your container, then snugly add a layer of anchovies, then more salt, then more anchovies until the jar is full. Simples
Leave the lot with a weight on top, a piece of wood is ideal, or at least press down regularly to ensure the fish stay in contact with the preserving salt. After a minimum of 3 weeks, longer if you can wait they are ready to eat. They need soaking in fresh water for 20 minutes, and you need to take the backbone out but you will rewarded with a meaty fish that will taste stronger and more robust than their anaemic cousins swimming in oil from the local supermarket.
It’s not a lot of fuss to give it ago yourself; the hard part is sourcing the fresh anchovies. Will it make much difference to your cooking? I think so, you know when you go on holiday to somewhere Mediterranean and the stew, ragouts and sauces taste much better than at home, well one likely reason is the chef is adding in a couple of spoonful of mashed salted anchovies.