How to Make Homemade Anchovy Paste

Here's a really simple and easy recipe to make your own anchovy paste for salad dressings and sauces.

And of course, if you aren't in the mood to make your own you can always buy a tube of anchovy paste in your local grocery store or order it online.

But let's talk a little bit about anchovies before we move on to the recipe.

They are a most misunderstood creature here in the United States, primarily because our only real exposure to them is from a tin can. And they don't taste all that great from a tin can.

Anchovy paste is made from anchovy fillets ground to a paste, and then blended with a little salt and a small amount of sugar. The sugar is added to the paste to mellow the flavor a bit. The paste is then packed in 2-oz. tubes.

One 2-oz tube of anchovy paste equals about 5 tablespoons or 1/4 cup. And 1/2 teaspoon of the paste is equal to 2 anchovy fillets.

So what is an anchovy? It's a tiny silver fish that is a member of the herring family. It's about 3 inches long, and native to the Mediterranean and southern European coastlines.

You can buy them whole and salt-packed, but are frequently sold filleted and packed in oil. They are best, at least here in the United States, when packed in olive oil, simply because we can't get them fresh here.

When opening a new can of anchovies, always taste them first before using them in a recipe. If they taste very salty, rinse the fillets well in warm water and pat them dry with a paper towel.

You shouldn't use the oil that the anchovies are packed in unless the recipe specifically calls for it. It would be too fishy and salty to use in the majority of recipes. That's definitely true if you are going to make your own anchovy paste.

If you buy whole anchovies, keep in mind that they are harder to work with because you'll have to remove the heads, tails and the backbones.

You might be tempted to buy bargain-priced anchovies. Don't do it! Spend the couple of extra dollars, they will taste much better.

Of course, if you go to Italy, to Cinque Terre, you'll have the extreme pleasure of possibly ordering "fruita di mare" which is a seafood appetizer consisting of freshly caught fish that day. And some of it will be anchovies. Fresh anchovies. The upside is they are exquisitely delicious and the downside is, you'll never want to go back to canned anchovies again!

One last thing about the canned version. Don't keep the leftovers in the tin. Take them out and roll them up and then put in an airtight container. You can cover them with extra-virgin olive oil and refrigerate. They will keep up to 6 months!

Here's how to make your own Anchovy Paste:

What you'll need:
- 18 fresh anchovy fillets
- 4 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 Tbsp wine vinegar
- 1 clove garlic
- Pepper

First, blend the anchovies in a food processor or blender. Peel and crush the garlic, then mix with the vinegar and pepper.

Next, stir in the oil little by little while whisking the mixture, just like you were making mayonnaise. When the mixture is blended, add the anchovies.

Use this paste as a dip or add it to sauces or creams or soft cheeses. It can be used in a variety of ways and tastes great with meat, fish and poultry. Anchovy paste goes well with appetizers served with cocktails and sparkling white wines.

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