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Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Okay, so maybe you were hoping for another ingredient... maybe, pine nuts or something a little more fashionable, but it's anchovies this week. Don't stop reading okay? Just hear me out.
Anchovies do have a bad rap. They are too often maligned with noses upturned at the mere mention of this salty, humble ingredient. But why? Sure, they are not the most attractive things, and sure, they are incredibly salty and also a bit fishy, but who says you have to eat them out of the can? Maybe anchovies were never meant to be in a starring role, but I think they make a great supporting cast member. Think of anchovies as Rob Schneider to a main ingredient's Adam Sandler. So maybe you weren't supposed to have an anchovy sandwich, but just maybe anchovies are supposed to be a great sidekick.
Indeed, there are many delicious uses for this flavour enhancer; just give it a try.
Some classic preparations of anchovies include:
1. Ceasar salad: mashed into the dressing, its form is indiscernible but its presence is unmistakeable.
2. Spaghetti puttanesca : add 3 or 4 anchovy fillets into your next tomato sauce, add sliced black olives, 1 can of flaked tuna and warm thoroughly. The anchovies melt away leaving a rich taste of the ocean.
3. Jannssen’s Temptation : this is ridiculously delicious and simple to make. It’s basically scalloped potatoes with a layer of onions and anchovies. Bake until golden and bubbly.
4. Bagna Cauda: Warmed dip of olive oil, butter, anchovies, garlic, parsley, chilli flakes for dipping raw (carrots, celery or radishes) or cooked vegetables (such as baby potatoes, baby corn or artichokes)
With the holiday season upon us, don't waste your money on insipid preservative-laden commercial tapenades. Make this sweet and salty tapenade instead:
5. Fig and olive tapenade : In a food processor, whiz up 1/4c capers, 1 c of pitted black olives, 1/4 c olive oil, 1/4c balsamic vinegar, 10 dried black mission figs roughly chopped, 4 anchovy fillets, 1/4c red onion – until chopped finely. Serve with cheese and crackers.
(Fig olive tapenade a top of triple creme pictured above. Sinful but delicious.)
6. Sauteed rapini and chilli flakes : sauté 2 cloves of garlic (minced), 1 pinch of chilli flakes, and 3 anchovy fillets. Add half bunch of chopped rapini and sauté until rapini is bright green and wilted slightly.
7. Steamed asparagus with lemon caper and anchovy butter – toss steamed asparagus with a mixture made of the zest and juice of one lemon, 1 tbsp capers drained, 2 anchovies finely minced, and 1 tbsp butter.
If you’re feeling particularly brave:
8. Smear it on hot toast instead of butter.
9. Add to pizza
10. Add to pesto
There see? That wasn't so bad. You can do it! Anchovies are a great second fiddle.