Be taught to Love the Anchovy

I was watching my dinner partner select each olive with great care from his pasta puttanesca a couple of years ago. As the pile of kalamatas increased, I found myself silently judging my dinner companion’s olive aversion. Adventuresome eating says that you are a man of daring and daring. You’re the Indiana Jones on the dinner circuit.

If there is ever a situation where our only hope of survival depends on eating a lot of duck tongues, we can rest assured that we will make it through unscathed. If I bring you home to meet the family, and my mother makes pasta puttanesca, you won’t ask for chicken fingers.

This same logic drove me to expand my palate and get rid of all my food aversions. No one likes an hypocrite. Then came smoked salmon. Then mushrooms. At a Wisconsin summertime barbecue, I had walleye. On a trip to Boston, I ate a dozen oysters and was hooked. This led to even scarier adventures–eel and blood sausage. Five or six years later, I am a pretty daring eater. It’s now your turn. What’s first? Anchovies.

Please allow me to explain. The anchovy is not just a great ingredient because of its saltiness, though that does help. The anchovy adds a rich, savory flavor to a dish. It’s similar to how Parmesan, mushrooms, or truffles can give a meal an extra boost.

Anchovies give meat a meatier texture. They add complexity to sauces (what, do you think, makes Worcestershire Sauce so tasty?). The little fish add a bit of something to dressings. If you are still hesitant, promise that you will at least try anchovy butter.

It’s still possible to enjoy the salty and meaty flavor of the fillets. However, since they are minced, blended and topped with a steak it is less intimidating than adding a fillet on your pizza. It’s so simple, you have no excuse.

Seared steak with Anchovy Butter

What you will want:
Six to eight anchovy fillets packed with oil
We like Kerrygold brand of unsalted butter that is barely softened.

How to:
Anchovies should be minced. Using a fork mash anchovies in butter until completely mixed. Scrape the butter on a plastic sheet. Roll the butter into a cylindrical shape and chill until firm. Slice a quarter-inch round of butter and place it on top of grilled steak.

Once you have been won over, the possibilities are endless. You can add anchovies to pasta sauces or salad dressings to give them a salty umami flavor, make meatballs with them, or even top a pizza.