I have never failed to convert an anchovy hater into a devotee after I introduced them to salted anchovies. Banish all those tins of oil-packed anchovy filets. Buy a can or jar of salted ones—the jar is usually round and looks like a lot more anchovies than you need. It isn’t.
Open the can and scrape off the top layer of salt; keep it for topping off the remaining anchovies. Lift out the dozen little fish you are going to use and brush off the salt gently. Take all the other fish out of the can and put them in a glass canning jar or plastic container with a lid. Tut all the salt back on top of the fish, cover, and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 months until needed again.
Holding each fish belly side up under cold running water (with not too much pressure), slit open the cavity with your thumbnail. Open up the fish along the backbone, then remove and discard the bone. Rinse each fillet (two per fish) under the water, remove and discard the little dorsal fin, and put the fillets on a plate. Repeat until all the fish are cleaned and filleted.
Then, and only then, put the fillets together in a bowl of cold water to soak away some of the saltiness. Leave for 10 minutes, drain, and repeat. Drain gently and lay out on paper towels. Gather the anchovy fillets up and put them in
Leave the fillets in the oil for a few hours. Then they are ready to use on salads (like Caesar) or with roasted bell peppers. Or blend them into butter with fresh tarragon and put on top of a baked potato. Or just put the fish on garlic bread with lots of black pepper and eat as a snack. You will never go near another oil-packed anchovy again.
© 2003 Jeremiah Tower. All rights reserved.