In the land of ouzo, fish and seafood nibbles are truly, very popular. Admittedly we prefer our fish fresh and baked on the grill, sprinkled with lemon and olive oil. Especially during summer when seas and shores are teeming with life, aquatic and not and we are all stewing under an unforgiving summer sun. There is nothing better than a lazy afternoon in front of the sea with salty treats washed down with a bit of ouzo. Anchovies, marinated in all their herby glory never go unnoticed.
Autumn is approaching fast, we got our fair share of thunderstorms this week and preserving the sea treasures seems more apt than ever. I am not talking about the sea shells you picked from the sea-side. Alas, they are not edible. It’s all about the anchovies, sealing a bit of sea-salt and sun in a jar to accompany you throughout winter. Weather permit, we still indulge in a bit of ouzo and sea-food mezze, even if it’s not in front of the sea but from our own balconies.
I have a very soft spot for the little anchovies. For all small fish to be honest. We normally fry whitebait in a light butter but these deserve very special treatment. It’s a quick curing process, perhaps a little fussy, but it’s definitely worth the effort. A jar of anchovies in the fridge, gives you a light lunch on the spot and a fun mezze evening for impromptu gatherings. So if you are up for it, here is the recipe.
What you will need for a 500 gr jar of marinated anchovies:
- 1 kg of fresh anchovies
- coarse sea salt
- ½ lt of strong vinegar
- a spoonful of peppercorns
- a spoonful of capers
- 2 garlic cloves
- 400-500 gr of olive oil
1 container for curing, 1 jar for storing.
A little note on herbs, spices and oil:
On what you use, imagination is your only limit. I used the typical garlic clove and capers that I love and a few peppercorns for added spice. If at hand, I also like using oregano or rosemary sprigs. Many people would go for the occasional chilli or pepper but I found these flavours overpower the light fish flavour.
When it comes to the oil, do not forget it is your preserving agent and it is really important to give your fish good coverage. I use extra virgin olive oil, in Greece we live and breath olive oil. If your supplies of olive oil are scarce or too pricey, you can replace it with a vegetable oil like sunflower oil and it will keep well. The upside of olive oil is that you can also use it when serving and it is wonderfully with all the herbs. It is practically perfect for dipping your bread in. So if you go for it, you will not regret it.
Time required: approximately 2 days
How to marinate anchovies:
- Clean the fresh anchovies thoroughly and remove head, guts and spine.
- Rinse very well, it’s really important to remove any residue from cleaning.
- Place a layer of the filleted fish in a container and sprinkle with coarse salt. Repeat the layers until all the fish is in the container and has a good coverage of salt.
- Close the container firmly and place in the fridge for 24 hrs.
- The following day rinse the salt off of the anchovies.
- Place them again flat in a container and make sure your anchovies are covered with vinegar.
- Leave them again in the fridge for 6 hrs. They are ready to flavour.
- Take your jar and place them in layers, making sure each layer has a thin slice of garlic, some peppercorns and capers.
- Repeat until your jar is almost full and then fill with olive oil.
- They are ready for you to enjoy either as a mezze or in salad. Crack open a bottle of ouzo too, it’s true sea-food joy.
Aw, I almost forget, you can keep your anchovies in the fridge for up to a year. My experience tells me though, you will use it up much quicker!
from Athens with love,