All About Anchovies
Anchovies are silver, slender salty little fish found mainly around the Black Sea and the Pacific and Atlantic, as well as the Mediterranean, where the best are thought to come from. They’re generally around 8-10cm long with large eyes that occupy almost the entire facial region. They live in large shoals and play a key role in the food chain within the ocean, so the good health of these fish is vital to the overall health of the oceans as we know them.
Anchovies, being an oily fish, are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, well known for its ability to lower levels of cholesterol in the blood. They are also an excellent source of protein, calcium, iodine, and selenium, so despite their diminutive size they are brimming with health benefits.
As their delicate flavour doesn’t last long after they are caught, they are rarely exported fresh and are instead filleted, salt-cured and packed in oil or salt and filled into tins or jars. When they are preserved this way, they take on the really intense and distinctive fish flavour. This way they are readily available in shops and stores and make a great store cupboard staple.
For one so small they are an incredibly versatile ingredient with endless possibilities to add them to your diet. Try enjoying them whole draped on top of an open salad sandwich, added to your breakfast scrambled eggs or the very popular pizza topping. The curing process that jarred and canned anchovies undergoes makes them exceedingly easy to dissolve as it cooks. Mashed and heated with olive oil, garlic, tomatoes, and olives, anchovies form the cornerstone of any good pasta sauce. Anchovy-based salad dressing can give crisp salads extra snap. Most incorporate egg yolks and oil, whisked into a creamy mayonnaise-style emulsion that cuts through some of that salty intensity while coating your greens nice and evenly. Why not try marinading your meat with a heady mixture of anchovies, garlic, rosemary, shallots, and lemon zest – perfect for a slow roasted leg of lamb. Butter is a great partner for anchovies, it can stand up to the flavour and is easily infused, use in your cooking preparation where you’d use salted butter.
Just remember, a little bit goes a long way, but also works real wonders
And finally, did you know anchovies are a favourite food of sailors and navigators: in fact, a salted anchovy helps cure sea sickness and provides the necessary proteins to face the day with plenty of energy.