“The Fragrances of the earth, the taste of the sea”
Anchovies are a staple of Italian coastal cuisine. Whether salted, marinated, fresh or in olive oil, they are a versatile ingredient and a beautifully tasty fish, used in a multitude of recipes. A comprehensive and very interesting article recently written by my sister (allow me to blow my own family’s trumpet!) highlights how much they are part of our heritage, and the difference between ‘alici’ and ‘acciughe’ and how far back their use goes for the Mediterranean people.
I have many memories of eating them in their most famous and simple way, on a fresh slice of bread, on a thick layer of butter… and last year, while I was pregnant, I couldn’t get enough of them, in salads or with ripe fresh tomatoes and feta cheese, until someone (indeed, it was the family expert, my sister) pointed out that alici sott’olio arent actually cooked so perhaps not the best food to eat then!
So when I was asked if I wanted to do a post on anchovies, using Italian brand Delicius sold from the Ciao Gusto Italian Shop on Ocado here in the UK, I keenly accepted. Despite being based in Parma (which is not by the sea), they have a long tradition of preserving fish. Given my interest in sustainability, I checked their committment to the environment; sadly the anchovy being over fished, but Delicius were the first Italian producers to obtain the Iso 2205 certification for the supply chain, asking and obtaining from their fishermen further effort in supervising and controlling all the parameters and steps of the work they conduct.
I was pleased to see a few familiar logos on their site including Friend of the Sea and MSC. They only select the Engraulis encrasicholus species, anchovies that swim freely in the Mediterranean sea in big schools of fish. I was lucky last week to witness a small shoal of tuna hunting those pretty silver fish while scuba diving in Sapri! They are fished in the period from April to September, respecting the seabed and its environment. They only process anchovies fished “a lampara”- which is the traditional fishing boat with low impact on the ecosystem.
Delicius was founded in Parma (Italy) back in 1974, the heart of the Italian preserving traditions and Unesco City of Gastronomy.
Delicius sell a few different types of anchovies; I ordered a couple of jars of the olive oil variety and a couple of the Pantelleria capers one too and started planning my recipes.
To me, anchovies are synonym of summers, and it was only natural to prepare a couple of dishes while enjoying my yearly summer holiday in Cilento with my family. Locally, anchovies are cooked in many ways too from the ‘Alici ‘mbuttunate’ (stuffed fresh anchovies with bread, capers, herbs and cooked in a rich tomato sauce) to the marinated version, which I often order in local trattorias.
One sunny lunchtime, I prepared a starter for my family which everyone loved, using the anchovies with capers; these ‘Southern Italian eggs’ went down really well, with a cold glass of white wine. One evening, I prepared a classic pasta dish, very quick to make, and very tasty, using the regular olive oil variety. Again, this was very much appreciated by the family and friends who joined us for the evening.
Bother recipes are very easy to recreate. Make the most of the remainder of our summer, and enjoy some taste of Italy with my suggestions below!
Southern Italian Eggs with Delicius anchovies
8 free range eggs, hard boiled and cut in half and separated
10 Delicius anchovies with capers
8 salt capers, cleaned of the salt
100gr tinned line & pole caught tuna in brine
2 teaspoons of free range mayonaise
a teaspoon of ground bottarga
In a bowl, mix the boiled yolks, the mayonaise, the anchovies and their capers and some of their oil and the tuna, mashing up with a fork and mixing well, leaving some of the anchovies and tuna pieces intacts. Carefully fold the mix into the boiled half eggs (I used an ice cream scooper to make round ball shapes) and lay on a serving plate, sprinkling with the bottarga and garnishing with a single caper.
Store in the fridge until ready to serve.
Anchovies are fished in the so called “notti di scuro” (dark nights), or those nights when the moon is not shining
Spaghetti with anchovies & courgette flowers
200gr spaghetti (we used Garofalo)
1 close of garlic, whole
Extra virgin olive oil
6 Delicius anchovies
8 courgette flowers, cut into small pieces
a handful of salt capers, cleaned of salt
A table spoon of breadcrumbs
In a large pan heat the olive oil (the quantity is to taste, as some people don’t like too much oil, some people prefer very smooth pasta dishes) and the garlic, until brown; add the anchovies and let them ‘melt’ helping the process with a wooden spoon. In the meantime, cook the pasta in salted water al dente. Add the courgette flower pieces to the pan and let them gently cook with the anchovies. Drain the pasta and add to the pan, mixing everything well and adding the breadcrumbs and the capers. Remove the garlic (unless your diners love it!) and serve, sprinkling some more breadcrumbs & freshly ground pepper.
About Ciao Gusto
Delicius anchovies are available to purchase in individual jars through the Ciao Gusto Ocado tab – picking up all your favourite authentic Italian food and drink has become even easier with the arrival of Ciao Gusto at Ocado. By selecting the Ciao Gusto shop when ordering your groceries, you’ll be able to search recipes and add ingredients straight to your basket. Brands include familiar names such as Cirio, Lavazza and Riso Gallo as well as lots of exciting products new to the UK.
Disclaimer: post written in collaboration with Ciao Gusto and Delicius. Opinions are my own.