Kitchen & Pantry

Anchovies

I’ve written about sweet basil and olives, this is the last entry on the ingredients for Pasta Putanesca. The simplicity of the classic Italian dish may make you think it’s plain but with the proper appreciation of the ingredients and how they are combined, you’ll understand when I say that Pasta Putanesca is anything but plain.

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So, let me tell you about canned anchovies. They’re smelly, very salty and absolutely delicious. Most people associate the term “anchovies” with canned salted fillets of small fish but, actually, it is the fish itself that is called anchovy. And what we know as dilis in the Philippines is one of the 140 known species of anchovy. You find salted anchovies in pesto and in Caesar’s salad dressing. Right. If you think you dislike smelly and intensely flavored fish but love pesto and Caesar’s salad, then there’s your proof that when used correctly, anchovies are simply wonderful.

How are salted anchovies used in cooking? Well, you open the can and take out the fillets. Most cooks say separate them and very gently rinse them in cold water to remove excess salt. Then, you lay the fillets on a stack of paper towels to remove excess water before using them. Personally, I feel that a lot of the flavor is lost by rinsing the anchovies. In fact, when I cooked Pasta Putanesca earlier tonight, I added ALL the contents of the can, fillets and oil, into the pan. The result actually is that I only needed to add very little salt since the salted anchovies were enough to provide all the saltiness that the dish required.

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