Pickled Anchovies (Γαύρος-μαριναρισμένος)

IMG_7308By the time you read this post, I will have once again touched-down in Greece – the 20th time! I’m barely ever indoors while I’m here. If I’m not at the breach, then I’m at a cafe or bar having a drink with family & friends.

Or I could be out front of our summer home, entertaining family & friends…it could be an offer of fruits, a coffee with a sweet or an appetizer with some Ouzo or Tsipouro (a homebrew similar to Ouzo usually with anise).IMG_7312

One of the many foods I look forward to when in Greece is the fresh fish and seafood. I’m still amazed and pleased that the fish or seafood that’s on my plate was just hours ago still swimming in the sea – awesome!IMG_6441

Besides sardines, the other beloved fish of the Greeks is the anchovy. When I speak of the anchovy the Greeks eat, it’s fresh and it’s usually fried or baked in the oven with tomatoes, olive oil, aromatics.

Another very popular and easy application for anchovies is to pickle them. Our ancestors pickled, jarred, salted, dried, brined foods as a means of survival.

The pickling of fish likely began as a means of using up every last fish caught in the day’s catch. Nothing was thrown out and to this day (thankfully) the same maxim applies.

This dish of marinated anchovies is offered as a meze (appetizer) before a lunch or in the early evening, like after my second swim. In Greece, dinner is eaten later in the evening and an early-evening meze like pickled anchovies bridges that gap.IMG_7309

In Greece, fresh anchovies are sold by the kilo and last year I was buying them from 3.50 to 5 Euros/kg…that’s cheap!

There are many takes on marinating/curing/pickling anchovies but I like this one best. Day one sees the anchovies curing in coarse salt and in day two, they get a bathed in wine vinegar.

By day three, the anchovies have turned white – cured and cooked by the salt and acid in the vinegar.

Pickled anchovies can be served alone on a plate or adorned with some aromatics and vegetables to accompany these delicious morsels of the sea.

Pickled Anchovies (Γαύρος μαριναρισμένος)IMG_7310

(makes 8-10 meze servings)

1kg. of fresh anchovies

course Sea Salt

wine vinegar

4 garlic cloves, cut into very thin slivers

olive oil


  1. Gut the anchovies and remove the heads by pinching the head with your thumb and forefinger and then pull-off. The guts should come away with it. Snip the tails off and wash the fish thoroughly.
  2. Place the fish in layers in a glass (or plastic container), salting between each layer. Cover and place in the fridge for 24 hours.
  3. The next day, thoroughly rinse the anchovies and now gently open the anchovy (like a butterfly) and pull out the spine and discard.
  4. Lay the anchovies back in the container (skin-side down) and pour in enough wine vinegar to cover. Leave the fish to cure over night or until the flesh has turned white from the vinegar.
  5. Put the fish in a colander and rinse thoroughly under cold running water. If the fish still taste very salty for your tastes, let them sit in a bowl of water for an hour.
  6. Place the fish back in the container in neat lay­ers with garlic slices between layers. Pour in enough olive oil to cover. Pickled anchovies are good in the fridge for up to one month.
  7. Serve as a meze with some chillis/hot pepper slices, some chopped fresh parsley, red onion, extra-virgin olive oil, salt and pepper to taste and a splash of balsamic vinegar. Don’t forget the Ouzo or Tsipouro!

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© 2007-2009 Peter Minakis

© 2009 – 2010,
Peter Minakis

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19 Comments for “Pickled Anchovies (Γαύρος-μαριναρισμένος)”

says:

always hated these as a kid brought on by canned varieties. Recently I tried them pickled and I was hooked…very addictive. Hope you’re still enjoying the holiday!

says:

Okay, this was really a mistake to read so close to lunchtime. I think I’m slobbering.

This looks absolutely lovely. Hope you’re continuing to have a wonderful vacation!

says:

Just drooling from afar – fresh anchovy fishies. Please eat up many for me.

And I will continue to adore anchovy fiilets straight from the jar, and try to remember leave a few for cooking

Ξανθή

says:

Με τον ίδιο τρόπο φτιάχνω κι εγώ το γαύρο και έχουμε για αρκετό διάστημα στο ψυγείο μας τον καλύτερο μεζέ για ούζο και τσίπουρο!!

says:

coffee and ouzo for breakfast! you are doing vaca right my friend!!
I bet those blue waters are soothing to the skin right now.

says:

looks delicious, as always.
i’m so jealous at how often you get to visit greece. my “repeat visit” is sweden and it’s hardly a mediterranean wonderland :)
snowfields here i come in december!

says:

Nice recipe, I’ll try it. I’ve been making marinated anchovies for years and the recipes are all pretty similar. I’ve tried marinating them in lemon juice (too acidic and “cooks” them way too quickly….ready in about 4 hours though). Different wine vinegars impart different flavors and I find that plain old white vinegar is the most neutral, leaving an almost sweet background flavor.

In my humble opinion, they are best on a piece of freshly buttered chewy baguette…with a glass of ouzo, retsina, or white wine.

says:

Ah, the humble anchovy! I like this recipe Peter but it’s so different to how we do them here in Gibraltar and southern Spain. I made some last night and will be posting on my blog tomorrow or Saturday. I basically pickle them for no longer than an hour. The olive oil and garlic phase is pretty much the same. I have to say though, I like the idea of a night in salt followed by a night in vinegar and will try it. Nice site!
Greetings from Gibraltar.
Brian

says:

Thank you, TY, TY – I have been looking for this recipe for ages! I will be making then at the weekend and investing in some Ouzo!