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Anchovy This is an ingredient that few people feel neutral about. As with many food dislikes, it is probably the result of having them prepared poorly or otherwise misused. Anchovies are most commonly found packed in oil or salt. Salt-packed anchovies are considered superior by most people, however, in a taste test conducted by Cooks Illustrated a Spanish brand packed in oil was the top pick. Oil-packed anchovies can be found in cans or jars. The advantage to buying them in jars is that you can inspect, at least visually, the quality before making a purchase. Salt-packed anchovies can be found in 600 gram cans and some delis will sell smaller quantities loose. A can of salt-packed anchovies might seem like a lot but they will keep well in the refrigerator in a glass or plastic container along with the salt they were packed in. Salt-packed anchovies are headless but still on the bone. In general, products that are less processed are of better quality than those that are heavily processed.

To prepare a salt-packed anchovy, rinse off any loose salt and soak the anchovy in water or milk for at least fifteen minutes. This will leech out some of the salt and re-hydrate the anchovy making it easier to pull the fillets away from the bone. A milk soaked anchovy will be milder than one soaked in water and the longer the soak the milder and softer the anchovy will become. Removing the bone is most easily accomplished under a running faucet. Hold the anchovy belly side up under the running water and run your thumb from head to tail. This will help clean out any remaining entrails and running your thumbnail along the spine will help separate the fillet from the spine. Now open the anchovy like a book and peel the spine away. The spines can be saved and deep fried but unless you are preparing a whole can of salt-packed anchovies at once it probably isn't worth the trouble.

A tip for cooking with anchovies is to place them in a cold pan with some oil and then heat the pan gradually. This will allow the anchovy to melt into the oil rather than fry. The magic of anchovies is the greatest when it infuses a dish with a subtle savory quality that is not immediately identifiable. Adding anchovies to braised lamb is a classic example. How much to add is a matter of taste and judgment or quanto basta.

Video:  Cleaning an Anchovy

Anchovy Nutrition Facts
Fish, anchovy, european, raw
Fish, anchovy, european, canned in oil, drained solids
. . -- Anchovy