what to eat {anchovies}

One of my favorite television shows is Seinfeld and the other day they replayed The Dinner Partywith its classic black and white cookie segment.  But beyond the “look to the cookie” line Jerry also declares cinnamon the key to everything delicious.  Now, I really like cinnamon {especially my new crush, Vietnamese cinnamon} but I think the ingredient that is often the secret to wonderfully delicious dishes is the anchovy.  Many of us grew up hating them.  They were just simply, the awful, overly salty tiny fish that our parents insisted on putting atop pizza, thereby ruining it for the rest of us.  If we were lucky, the parentals would only subject half the pizza to the little buggers.  Truth be told, I still am not a fan of them on pizzas but pretty much love them on everything else.
These small saltwater fish, from the herring family, contain a compound called inosinate, which really brings out the flavor of other things, like red meat.  This is why anchovies are part of the fifth taste, umami {sweet, sour, salt, bitter, umami}.  This whole umami thing sort of bypass me but what I do know is that it’s savory.  It’s that taste that boost your culinary experience, expanding and enhancing flavors.   This is exactly what anchovies do.  Try a Caesar dressing with and without the anchovies; you’ll see what I mean.  Whether they are packed in oil or salt, these little fish should be a staple in your pantry.  In our house I also have a tube of anchovy paste {I can’t even remember why it’s in my fridge} but I never use it.  I prefer the fillets but if you’re in a pinch the paste will have to do.   Anchovies are great in so many pastas but here are a couple of different recipes to try.  Lamb with Anchovies, Capers and Sage was a recipe I clipped last month from the NYT.  If Mike hadn’t been home for dinner the night I made this I would have eaten the whole plate of chops myself…they are that good.  {I shared nicely, but absolutely used my finger to lick up the leftover sauce from the platter.}  The recipe below for Green Goddess Dressing is my own – some people like to incorporate cream, avocados, sour cream, tarragon.  However you make it, just don’t leave out the anchovies!  If you have never had this dressing before, now is the perfect time to try it!  With all the great fresh produce and beautiful fish available it’s a great accompaniment. And if you love eggs benedict, you must, must try it with this sauce.  It is more flavorful than hollandaise and is especially wonderful with crab cakes benedict {skip the calorie counting and just enjoy}.

Green Goddess Dressing
makes 1 ½ cups

1 cup mayonnaise
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove
1 cup fresh parsley leaves
1 cup fresh basil
2 anchovy filets {packed in oil}
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
3 tbsp. white balsamic vinegar
Kosher salt
fresh ground pepper

Blend everything in a blender until smooth.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Stir.  Will keep in the fridge for two days in an air-tight container.

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