Allyson Gofton - Anchovy A-Z

Publish Date
Friday, 8 August 2014, 12:00AM
By Allyson Gofton

Anchovies, a member of the herring family, are without doubt, one of those foods that conquer and divide. Fresh, anchovies are mild in flavour, though once preserved, their flavour becomes far more pronounced.  The Romans salted and preserved the fish and used it as a basis for their fermented sauce, garum. Today the best anchovies are said to come from the area between Nice (France) and Catalonia (Spain). Available whole or filleted, in salt or brine, in oil or vinegar.

Anchovy essence to my mind is a wonderful condiment and an essential in today’s pantry. It adds nuances to sauces and dishes that add a magic touch that few will be able to fathom.

Tips for use:

  • Use anchovies to enhance salt notes in a dish.
  • Used by themselves anchovies can be overpowering, so use sparingly.
  • Salted or brined anchovies should be rinsed or soaked in milk or water before using.
  • Once opened, keep anchovies in the jar or tin in a well sealed plastic container. Use within a couple of months. Use clean utensils when lifting fillets from the packaging.
  • Mashed anchovies work wonders in a marinade for beef or lamb.
  • Add anchovy essence or sauce with butter to wilted silver beet or cavalo nero.
  • Essential in Caesar salad, Tartare sauce, stuffed eggs or to add spice to a tomato-based pasta sauce, like Puttanesca.
  • A little mashed anchovy will work wonders in a savoury cream-based dip or spread.  
  • Other friends of anchovies include eggplants, chillies, grilled fish, olives, potatoes, green beans, eggs and red capsicums.

Sage and anchovy chicken nibbles

Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Marinating time: 2 hours or overnight
Cooking Time: 35-40 minutes
Serves: 10-12

1 kilo chicken nibbles
½ cup olive oil (extra virgin is nice here)
6-8 anchovies, minced or finely chopped
1 tablespoon dried sage or 2-3 tablespoons chopped fresh sage leaves
2 teaspoons minced garlic


  1. Mix the olive oil, anchoves, sage and garlic together.
  2. Make 1-2 cuts though to the bone in each nibble and toss with the marinade. Refrigerate for 2-3 hours or up to overnight.
  3. Bake at 200ºC on a baking paper-lined tray for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown and well cooked. Serve warm.

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