It’s anchovy season!!! Actually, it’s been anchovy season for a while (spring through the summer); was patiently waiting for red bell pepper to catch up (and yay, they’re finally here).
Okay, am probably one of the few people who is passionate about anchovies, but I absolutely love these oily little guys.
Was excited when my local fish market called the other day to let me know they had just received a shipment of fresh [Spanish] anchovies. If you’ve never had fresh anchovies, they are nothing like the cured/salted version you find in jars or tins.
In the raw, anchovies are delicate, tender, and delicious…
That being said, jarred/tinned anchovies have their place in the kitchen. Looking to jazz up a red pasta sauce, add a cured/salted anchovy or two; it will lend that little something extra, in this case, an umami element.
One bite of this crostini and I am transported to a tapas bar in Barcelona or, better still, a pintxos bar in San Sebastian. Just about every tapas/pintxos bar in Spain has fresh anchovies (boquerones as they are referred to in this part of the world) on the menu; they are typically served speared (on a wooden toothpick) on a small white plate.
I happily recall sipping txakoli (the local Basque wine) with a plate of anchovies in a crowded, noisy bar in San Sebastian — without a care in the world. Taste can be a powerful trigger. For me, anchovies instantly evoke fond memories; thus, my deep affinity for them. A few years back, I went so far as to make a pilgrimage to the tiny Cantabrian fishing village of Santoña, ‘City of Anchovies,’ to pay homage to my little friends.
Not sure why anchovies are so hard to find in the United States? This is the first time I’ve been able to source fresh anchovies (albeit, by way of Spain). Have to imagine there are anchovies swimming in and around the oceans of North America? Or, maybe, there’s just not much of a demand for them here? or perhaps overfished? The scarcity of fresh anchovies in the United States is a shame because fresh anchovies are REALLY GOOD! Or should I say gozoak (“delicious” in Basque).
So, if you are lucky enough to track down fresh anchovies, here’s a quick and easy marinade for curing them, along with a tasty recipe for roasted and marinated red bell peppers…a perfect bite of food stacked upon a slice of grilled bread.
1/2 pound fresh anchovies
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
pinch of red pepper flakes
1 clove of garlic, thinly sliced
Clean each anchovy by gutting and removing the gills, backbone, head, and tail. Rinse and pat dry. Slice into two fillets. Repeat with the remaining anchovies.
Place the filleted anchovies in a shallow non-reactive shallow bowl or container. Mix together the remaining ingredients. Pour the marinade over the anchovies. Refrigerate for at least four hours or up to 48 hours.
Serve the anchovies on grilled/toasted bread, with roasted marinated bell peppers and a sprig of parsley.
Roasted Marinated Red Bell Peppers
3 bell peppers (red, orange, yellow)
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove grated
sea salt and black pepper to taste
leaves of few sprigs of thyme
Roast the whole peppers on an open flame (or your gas range or bbq), turning every few minutes, until charred on all sides. Place the peppers in a paper bag for 10 to 15 minutes (to help loosen the skins). With a chef’s knife, scrape the charred skin (don’t worry if a few charred bits stick). Remove the seeds, and slice into roughly 1/2 to 3/4 inch strips. Place the peppers into a non-reactive bowl or glass jar.
Whisk the remaining marinade ingredients together. Pour the marinade over the bell peppers and refrigerate a few hours or overnight. The longer the red peppers marinate, the more flavor they will have. Bring to room temperature before serving.