Fresh anchovies are fished all over the Mediterranean, as well as the Atlantic coasts of France and Spain. Fresh anchovies are an oily fish that look and taste similar to sardines. They vary in size and can be bought either fresh or cured. Cured anchovies were originally left whole and packed in salt, but now they tend to be boned, cleaned and preserved in salt or oil and sold in cans or jars. Fresh anchovies don’t travel well so are best eaten in the Mediterranean. They’re not easy to find in the UK because there isn’t a great demand for them, but try Italian or Spanish delis. Otherwise buy them cured or preserved – supermarkets do a limited range but delis tend to sell a wider range. Italy’s gastronomy often incorporates this salty little fish into a variety of different recipes. From appetizers to pastas, main dishes to pizzas, anchovies, or acciughe in italian, are quite common. You will need very fresh fish for this simple dish, with perhaps just some breadto mop up juices. The dish can be kept refrigeratedfor up to three days.
400 g fresh anchovies
60 ml olive oil
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 tbsps lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tbsps finely chopped parsley
2 tbsps finely chopped basil
1 small red chilli, seeded and chopped
1-2 teaspoons red pepper corns
Fillet the anchovies by running your thumbnail or a sharp knife along the backbone, then pulling the head upwards. The head, bones and guts should all come away together, leaving you with the fillets. Carefully wash under cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Place fillets in a shallow serving dish.
Combine all the remaining ingredients together with some salt, to taste, and pour over the anchovies. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate in the fridge for at least 3 hours before serving.