Gavros Marinatos: A Salad of Marinated Local Anchovies

The most difficult part of this recipe is getting your hands on fresh anchovies. While they are dredged from local waters by the netful from May to August, what isn’t sold for pennies on the pound as bait is exported to other markets to be processed, packaged, and resold to us at a vast premium. Cleaning them is tedious and mysterious to the uninitiated and they are highly perishable, so American fish market’s rarely bother stocking them. You may be able to pre-order them by calling the day before. Hopefully the above will inspire you to conquer a new challenge in the kitchen; if not, you may buy boquerones or white anchovies ready-made and skip ahead to the marinating and garnishing steps.

Curing.

Fresh anchovies 1 pound

Champagne vinegar 1 pint

Salt 1 TB

  • This is made much easier by using a very sharp small paring knife. It will also be quite messy, set up a station next to your sink so you can rinse everything off afterwards. First scale your anchovies by gently running the back of the knife along their bodies from tail to head.

  • Next, line your knife up with the belly parallel to the length of the anchovy and cut away the gut cavity. This is about a ¼ inch wide piece of flesh going from the fin next to the head to just before the tail. Decapitate them with a perpendicular cut straight through, right behind the head.

  • Place an anchovy on its back. Using your fingertips, carefully spread the filets down towards the cutting board, pulling them away from the spine. Once the meat is laying flat on the board, you should be able to grasp the spine and pull it up and towards the tail to remove all the bones in a single motion.

  • Submerge the fishes in cold water and swish them around, then let them sit a few moments so the scales and other bits can sink to the bottom. Carefully lift them up out of the water and transfer them to a tray lined with a towel to dry.

  • Whisk the vinegar and salt together. Put the anchovies in a shallow dish or bowl and pour the vinegar over. Let sit for about 15 minutes. When they begin to turn white and the flesh starts to firm up, you are ready for the next step.

Marinade.

1 pint Olive oil 

2 Jalapeno 

1 Red onion - medium size.

2 Tablespoons Dry oregano

  • Remove the seeds from the jalapeno. Slice the chiles and onions very thinly.

  • Remove the anchovies from the marinade to a plate lined with paper towels. Blot off as much vinegar as possible to arrest the curing.

  • Working in layers in a shallow pan: lay out anchovies skin side up in a single layer. Sprinkle lightly with salt, onion and jalapeno slices, and oregano. Pour over just enough oil to cover. Repeat until all the anchovies are marinated, you will probably have an excess of onion.

  • Refrigerate. They are best after a few hours and usable for a few days.

Salad.

1 bunch Flambeau radish

2 Persian cucumbers

1 Fennel bulb 

1 bunch fresh oregano 

  • Pick the oregano but keep whole. Thinly slice the fennel and cucumber lengthwise, this is best done with a mandoline.

  • Remove the tops and the rootlet from the radishes, then wash them with water and a dry towel. Quarter them lengthwise.

  • Toss the cucumber and fennel in a bowl with a pinch of salt, let sit for a few minutes to soften.

  • Arrange your anchovies on a plate skin side up. Pour a few tablespoons of the marinade over the cucumbers and fennel, and toss until well dressed. Plate a small pile of the salad next to the anchovies and scatter the radishes around. Finish with a few more spoonfuls of the marinade.

  • Eat by scooping up fishes and veggies in a piece of warm flatbread and dipping it in the oil.