By 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).
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!
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.
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 (Î“Î±ÏÏÎ¿Ï‚ Î¼Î±ÏÎ¹Î½Î±ÏÎ¹ÏƒÎ¼ÎÎ½Î¿Ï‚)
(makes 8-10 meze servings)
1kg. of fresh anchovies
course Sea Salt
4 garlic cloves, cut into very thin slivers
- 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.
- Place the fish in layers in a glass (or plastic container), salting between each layer. Cover and place in the fridge for 24 hours.
- The next day, thoroughly rinse the anchovies and now gently open the anchovy (like a butterfly) and pull out the spine and discard.
- 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.
- 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.
- Place the fish back in the container in neat layÂers with garlic slices between layers. Pour in enough olive oil to cover. Pickled anchovies are good in the fridge for up to one month.
- 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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