The anchovy is, without a doubt, the most maligned fish and food product on the shelves today, and most people state that they do not like them, often without even trying this flavorful condiment. This healthy fish is mostly viewed as a pizza topping, but it is also quietly inserted into many recipes including Caesar’s salad and Worcestershire sauce.
Anchovies are high in vitamins E and D as well as calcium and selenium, and they are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. Anchovies also tend to have much less heavy metal toxins like mercury, arsenic, and lead then the larger fish at the top of the food chain. The sodium found in anchovies is a result of the preserving and brining process and can be removed by soaking the fish in water for 15 minutes prior to using the fillets.
A similar small canned fish is the sardine which is actually not a single fish, but could be one of a number of small fish related to the herring. They are more oily than the anchovy and while equally nutritious, the sardine has more vitamin B12 and more calcium, and less vitamin E. Sardines are also frequently found smoked or brined in salt and the flavor is different from anchovies.
A classic Swedish dish, Mr. Janssen’s Temptation, is a cold weather comfort food that centers on the anchovy and is very easy to make. Peel and thinly slice ten large potatoes and layer the bottom of a large baking dish with the slices. Follow that layer with a layer of sliced onions then a layer of anchovy fillets. Repeat the layers until the dish is filled then top with a cup of heavy cream and the brine from the anchovies and then sprinkle bread crumbs and pats of butter. Bake for 30 minutes in an oven preheated to 475; add another ¼ cup of cream and bake for another 15 minutes until the potatoes are tender.
Most people who say that they don’t like anchovies will be pleasantly surprised when they try this dish because it dispels the belief that anchovies are “salty” and this recipe also demonstrates that anchovies are not just for pizza.