Salted anchovies are a little bigger than canned anchovies and have wonderful flavor, but they are not always easy to find unless you go to an Italian market district. I had thought that because they are salted they would keep indefinitely. They'll keep, says my Italian market source, Joe Pace, whose shop is in Boston's North End, but they begin to lose quality after a can is opened. It is better to buy only as many anchovies as you need from a big can that's been freshly opened in the store, and if you don't use them all within a few days, to wash the salt off and refrigerate the anchovies in a closed jar of olive oil. But use them soon if you want to get the best flavor from them.
If you are using anchovies just for flavor, as in Lynne Rossetto Kasper's lamb marinade, simply rinse off the salt, split them open to remove the central bone, and they are ready. If, however, you want to eat them in salads and appetizers, they need more work. To prepare them, wash off the salt, then soak the anchovies in several changes of cold water until softened—this will take 30 minutes or so if they are from a fresh can—up to an hour or more if not. Test by filleting one—lay it on a board and with two forks separate one side from the central bone, then lift up and discard the bone from the fillet and remove any extraneous bits by running your fork along the length of the fillets. Taste a bit, and if still too salty, soak 5 to 10 minutes more.
To serve, you might arrange them in a dish and baste with a good vinaigrette, or with a little olive oil, pepper, oregano, and a spoonful of capers.
Ready-to-eat anchovies go off in taste within a few hours whether previously canned or salted. Open or prepare only what you plan to consume within a couple of hours. Their fragility may be the reason many people just hate anchovies—they've been eating stale ones.
IN JULIA'S KITCHEN WITH MASTER CHEFS
by Julia Child
Photographs by Michael McLaughlin
U.S.A. $35.00, Canada $49.00 (Hardcover)
Alfred A. Knopf
(Reprinted with permission.)
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