From The New Spanish Table cookbook by Anya von Bremzen
I happen to love all anchovies—the salty kind that come in tins and jars, vinegary boquerones, fresh ones fried crisp and as compulsively eatable as popcorn—but I understand this puts me in a pretty small club. That said, I’m convinced that if more people only gave anchovies a chance, they’d realize these tiny fishies don’t deserve their icky reputation.
Canned anchovies are assertive in flavor, true, but if you think of them as a seasoning rather than as something to eat straight from the tin, you may be surprised at their ability to add salt and depth to a dish without fishiness. Don’t believe me? Throw in a fillet or two (they’ll disintegrate) when you saute the onion and garlic for spaghetti sauce. If you don’t mind a bit of fishy flavor, try my favorite panino: fresh mozzarella, anchovy fillets, and a sprinkle of red pepper flakes. You’ll definitely know the anchovies are there, but they’ll be mellowed somewhat by the milky cheese.
This CATALAN GUACAMOLE, from The New Spanish Table cookbook, puts an Iberian spin on a Mexican favorite, and is a fantastic showcase for anchovies’ intense, salty goodness. Sherry vinegar adds winey complexity as well as a touch of acidity. Flavorwise, this is a complete departure from the traditional guacamole I know and love. It is something I will definitely make again, though—probably the same night I try out my new paella pan.
2 small garlic cloves, chopped
2 best-quality oil-packed anchovy fillets, drained and chopped
3 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 large pinch coarse salt (kosher or sea)
1 1/2 tablespoons fragrant extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar, preferably aged
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, or more to taste
2 small ripe Hass avocados, pitted and diced
1 small ripe plum tomato, cut in half and grated on a box grater, skin discarded
Toasted or grilled country bread, for serving
1. Place the garlic, anchovies, parsley and salt in a mortar and, using a pestle, mash them into a paste. Whisk in the olive oil, vinegar, and lemon juice. Set the dressing aside.
2. Place the avocados in a bowl and, using a fork, mash them until completely smooth. Stir in the tomato and the dressing, then taste for seasoning, adding more lemon juice as necessary. Let the spread stand for 15 to 20 minutes for the flavors to meld, then serve with toasted or grilled bread.
Makes about 1 1/2 cups