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Saturday, November 8, 2014

Marinated Anchovies

Today the sun seeped into my skin and whispered to me, "they are ready to be welcomed by you."
That could only mean one thing.. I'm going to be marinating fresh anchovies for happy hour tonight.. and nothing going to stop me.
With respect to my rule C of dinner parties, these will make for quite a happy happy hour.
When I buy anchovies, I always buy the marinated ones, never the salted ones.  I don't enjoy all the grime and salt as much as I enjoy the pure filets with their exquisite texture.  During these past few weeks, I've been lingering around my fishmonger waiting for fresh anchovies to become available.  There comes a time in one's life when one feels ready.  Ready to take it to the next level.  Ready to do it my own way.  Ready to cook using something other than heat.
Unfortunately, all the fishmonger was able to offer me were sardines.. which are great, but my one tracked mind was not fixated on marinating sardines today.. I wanted ANCHOVIES!  I almost started the debate about whether or not the anchovy is the sardine's spawn, but I let it slide, knowing that he would call me over when he did finally have anchovies.  You can't rush such things.
I was right about feeling ready.  It was just the right time for these marinated anchovies to be happening in my life..
450g (1 lb) fresh whole anchovies
1st marinade:
juice from 1/2 lime
1/2 cup balsamic white vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
1/4 cup cider vinegar
2nd marinade:
few pinches fleur de sel
1/2 tsp chili flakes
2 large cloves garlic, sliced
few cracks black pepper
3/4 cup very good quality olive oil
1.  Prepare the filets.  Cut the heads and tails off the anchovies and with a sharp knife, slit the bellies. Using your fingers, remove the guts.  Remove the central bone.  You don't need any magic tools here, just your fingers.  It all comes off easily.
Rinse the filets well and pat dry.  This is important.  Don't leave any gut slime on there.
2.  Prepare the first marinade.  Mix all the ingredients together.  Place a layer of anchovy filets in a container and pour the marinade mixture over until the filets are just covered.  Add another layer of filets and cover again with the vinegar mixture.  Do this until you no longer have any filets or vinegar.  If the filets are not submerged, just pour on some more vinegar or lime juice.
Let marinate in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.  During this time, the filets will cure, but will retain their real anchovy flavor.  Use good quality vinegars because your filets will have the vinegar aftertaste in the end.  Adjust the lime-vinegar quantities as you wish.
3.  Bathe.  After about 4 hours, the marinade might be a little off-putting.  Mine was murky and I was afraid it wasn't going to cut it.
Rinse the filets in cold water, then pat dry.
4.  Prepare the second marinade.  Place a layer of anchovy filets in a container and sprinkle a bit of fleur de sel, chili flakes, pepper, and a few slices of garlic.  Cover with olive oil and repeat the process until you no longer have filets or olive oil.  If the filets are not submerged, add more olive oil.
Let marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
They will keep for a week in the fridge as long as they are submerged in olive oil... but they won't last you that long anyway..

I'm not sure about proper anchovy-eating etiquette, but I have little escargot forks that I use to grab a filet or 2 and put it directly into my mouth.  I may get a few drops of oil on the table, but that doesn't bother me.

These were a great success.  They retained their real anchovy flavor instead of being pure salt as the ones you buy in cans.  The flesh stays firm and the happiness emanates throughout the room.  Needless to say, every last one of these was eaten with great respect.

Anchovies, I hope you are finding great comfort within me... I will always be ready and willing to welcome you..
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