About Me
I'm a Melbourne boy, hailing from St Kilda with one ex, one current wife and four kids. Love the outdoors and making new discoveries. I cook a lot at home (cheers from wife) and do some preserving, mostly jams, pickles and fruit liqueurs. This is the diary of a cooking journey.

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Tuesday, August 29, 2006
Something Fishy
Sometimes it's so hard being a foodie.

I was chatting with Reb from CucinaRebecca about anchovies. To date I have been happy with regular supermarket anchovies in the tin or small glass jar and apart from small differences in quality there never seemed a lot of difference between brands, one small hairy fish was much like any other small hairy fish, right?


Reb assures me that the Ortiz brand of anchovy are the Rolls Royce of anchovies, even comparing them to Grange Hermitage, Australia's best known and iconic wine, against cask shiraz. Well the price differential sure is similar, with Grange, depending on vintage, retailing for better than $400 and a humble cask about $20. The last time I looked Ortiz anchovies were about $20 a tin as opposed to about $3 a tin for regular supermarket ones. So now it looks like I have to part with my hard earned and taste the difference for myself. Is it wrong to secretly hope I don't like them all that much?

The other thing Reb mentioned was that the Ortiz anchovy was not one for use in cooking where they are to be melted down, for this she recommends using regular anchovies. The Ortiz fish is best savoured in its entirety, for its aromatic and refined taste, and Reb suggests an anchovy pizza as a good way to highlight its character.

So just as one brand of this fish is poles apart from all other brands, this small hairy fish as it is affectionately known, because its ultra small bones resemble a bit of fuzzy hair, completely polarises opinions as to its culinary virtue. You either love it or hate it. I have a mate who hates garlic and when cooking for him, would always ask if I put garlic in or not. Figuring that if he had to ask, then he didn't really hate it all that much and so generally added it to his food and told him bald faced lies about its presence. Funny, he always said my food was very tasty! So it is with anchovies. When melted into a sauce or casserole their presence is virtually undetectable but adds a deep flavour boost. Whenever I make a pasta sauce based on tomato, one or two fillets always find their way in, because anchovy fillets melt readily with heat, no one knows they are there.

I suppose if I cooked garlic bread for my garlic hating mate, he would have been on to me, though in his case I would have done something completely different but just as tasty in its own way, and that is anchovy bread. For anyone a bit tired of garlic bread, this is a great alternative. The butter mellows the flavour of the anchovies and what could be better to hairy fish lovers than their favourite treat on warm, crusty bread?

Anchovy Bread

125 g (5 oz) softened unsalted butter
8 to 10 anchovy fillets
1 French stick or baguette

Pound the anchovy fillets to a paste in a pestle and mortar, or pass through a garlic press. Mix well with the softened butter. Slice the bread nearly all the way through, in 1/2" (1.5 cm) slices. Butter each side of bread with the anchovy butter, slather a bit over the top, then wrap the french stick in foil and bake for 20 minutes in a 200 c (400 f) oven.
  posted at 7:52 am

At 9:39 am, Blogger Gigi said...

I love anchovies and always have, although I've only had the supermarket brands. My husband, on the other hand, won't even be in the same room with them; needless to say I haven't had any in years.

I wonder what would happen if I just 'melted' them into a marinara as you say...hmnn. I wonder if I dare.

At 12:41 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gadfry, Gigi may have you to blame for some heavy duty stress in that relationship.
I'm fine with anchovy, think like you do - so do I need to put Ortiz anchovy on my list of five things to eat before I die?
The bread sounds really excellent!

At 8:44 am, Blogger neil said...

Hi gigi, I have the same problem with roast meats - my wife likes well done, I prefer rare, so guess who misses out! I promise if you melt no more than two fillets into your sauce, hubby will be none the wiser. BTW does he like worcestershire sauce, 'cause that is full of anchovies?

Hi tanna, we'll see!

Well I'm going to try them, just so I know.

At 9:14 am, Blogger Reb said...

Oooooo... throwing caution and finances to the wind! I reckon you'll get hooked for sure. I can already taste the anchovy bread.

At 11:01 am, Blogger Haalo said...

Sadly the best anchovies don't seem to be available anymore - they came from Western Australia and were produced by Mendolia and had the corny name of "auschovies" - they really were incredible.

At 3:59 pm, Blogger neil said...

Hi reb, I hope my bank manager has a sense of adventure too!

Hi haalo, I used to buy them too, they are superior to much of what comes into the country. They may still be available, I'll let you know.

At 9:44 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

pestle and mortar??? i dont own such a thing - i thought only chemists used those.

At 1:27 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please, please, do not give recipes for the Ortiz anchovies! I personally think it's a waste to mix them with anything, pizza included. The Ortiz jars come with their tiny forks for a reason - to use them.

So I propose this: take your Ortiz jar, go somewhere quiet; if you want to have your favorite wine around take it with you, take some bread if you want (sourdough or italian would best do). Concentrate on the anchovies; eat them directly from the can. Down some bread or some wine if needed.

At 5:18 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I came upon this blog while looking for a recipe. I saw the Half Moon restaurant in Melbourne featured on an episode of "No Reservations" a television cooking show in the United States featuring chef Anthony Bourdain. One of the items on the menu was fresh water lobsters with Ortiz Anchovies, Pedro Ximenez Sherry, and Pimentos. Checking the internet, I came across a notation that the Half Moon restaurant served prawns the same way.

I am curious, does anyone out there have a recipe for either of these dishes prepared with these terrific sounding ingredients? Have you dined at the Half Moon?

Since I live in the state of California in the United States, and have no plans for a trip to your country (much as I would love to visit), I am very curious.

If you have the time and inclination, I would love to hear from you. Thanks.



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