Salted, vinegar-bathed, then olive oil soaked anchovy fillets. Think long soaked kinilaw na dills. They make for an EXCELLENT tapas dish, and as I will show in other posts up soon, are useful in other dishes as well. I have NOT always enjoyed anchovies, and the pungent dark tinned variety have not been my favorite, though I have taken to them in recent years. But the first time I had a “fresh” (they’re not literally fresh, rather freshly made) or white anchovy fillet, I immediately fell in love with them. Oddly, I never ever attempted to make them at home. So for a first time experiment, I have to say, these were a home cook’s equivalent of a slam dunk!
First, get your hands on some really fresh dills, in this case, this unusual variety with translucent “skins” that make them appear “naked”… These were several hours old, but I took a chance on them anyway, figuring at PHP199 a kilo at S&R (where I rarely buy seafood because of the prices) and perhaps just PHP120 at the markets, this was a less costly experiment should it fail miserably. The cost of the dills was minor compared to the labor needed to fillet and clean these fish! Thank goodness the cook and one other crew member had the knowledge and patience to do this (it took some 25-30 minutes for a kilo of fish) or I would have fried the darned things!
You have to debone the fish, remove its guts and head and trim them with a knife to make the filets look nice and tidy. Some websites suggest that some varieties of anchovies can have a kind of poison or bacteria in them, so it’s advisable to first FREEZE the fillets before continuing on with the salting and marination. I took my chances and didn’t freeze these fish, we just cleaned them well, rinsed them and went on with the process…
Cleaning wasn’t difficult, just tedious.
We placed the fillets in little clay cazuelas or tapas dishes and sprinkled them very liberally with natural sea salt with no iodine added. Layer the fish fillets with salt in-between.
One kilo of fish yielded three small dishes of fillets. Wrap this with plastic wrap, place them in the fridge and let them exude some of the liquid from the fillets, making them firmer. I did this for 4 hours, but would recommend you do it for say 2.5-3.0 hours instead. That will avoid overly salty fillets and a texture somewhere between really fresh but soft, almost mushy consistency, and the firmer version in the photo up top.
Drain from the salt bath and rinse quickly. Add enough good vinegar to cover the fillets and let this marinate for another 4-5 hours or so. If you don’t want them too vinegar-y, then marinate for less time. Drain the vinegar out and cover the fillets with good olive oil and add minced garlic and or chopped parsley or even chili flakes if you desire. The results? Brilliant. Really good, for something so easy to make (except for prepping the fish!)…
Served on slices of toasted baguette, along with a sprinkling of freshly chopped parsley, this was a WONDERFUL mouthful of homemade goodness. The texture was firm, the fish salty but balanced out by the flavor of special sherry vinegar from Jerez. Now if only I found this variety of dilis in the markets more often, I would have a stash of these boquerones in the fridge all of the time!