Marinated anchovies are a much sought-after dish among Italians along Italy’s coasts. A fresh, delicate dish that calls for a very ancient cooking technique: marinating. Here’s how to prepare marinated anchovies with the traditional flavour that never goes out of style!
Even today the geographic origins are somewhat uncertain; some claim that they came from the southern Mediterranean, others that they came from a town at the gates of Rome. One thing certain is that old fishing documents dating to 1890 speak of “alici in bianco” (anchovies in white), the colour these little fish take on when they come in contact with the marinade, which activates the cooking and preserving process.
This ancient preservation technique dates all the way back to Ancient Greece, where marinating was used to preserve fresh foods like fish and meats much longer. As time passed, the marinade, consisting of an emulsion made using acidic ingredients, fats and herbs, turned into a popular side dish and a slow cooking technique that does not attack foods but rather enriches them and enhances their flavour.
Today marinated anchovies are served as street food or as an antipasto in restaurants and are often prepared in Italian home kitchens for tasty and elegant aperitifs.
Acidic flavours, rich texture and aromatic scents combine in a light, opaque sauce: the marinade. When this emulsion, a veritable elixir of flavour, comes in contact with the anchovies, the queen of Mediterranean blue fish, enhances the flavour of the fish, giving them a unique, unforgettable taste. Try out this recipe for marinated anchovies and prepare it for your next luncheon!
Choose very fresh anchovies, scale them and fillet them. Arrange the anchovy fillets on a platter skinside down. In a bowl combine the oil, salt, lemon juice, pepper and finely minced garlic. Whisk the ingredients together well so as to create a loose, creamy, greenish-yellow opaque emulsion.
Sprinkle the marinade over the anchovies and add plenty of fresh parsley chopped very fine. Transfer the anchovies in their marinade to the refrigerator for one hour. Remove the anchovies from the refrigerator and let stand for five minutes before serving accompanied by good crusty bread.