When we asked Seattle chef Ethan Stowell to pick the ingredient that he relies on most in his cooking, he didn't hesitate.

"That's easy, because I named a restaurant after them: Anchovies & Olives."

The former, those tiny, briny fish, act as Stowell's nuanced substitute for every chef's crutch: salt. "We probably feature them in three dishes a week, at least," he says.

Stowell prefers the olive-oil-packed variety, because they don't require soaking like their salt-packed brethren (soaking, he warns, can lead to soggy fillets). Here, his suggestions for cooking with this complex flavor booster:

The oil: Don't even dream of discarding the olive oil that the anchovies are packed in; it is perfect for drizzling over cheese (Stowell prefers a fresh burrata) or on pizza. Try using it in a vinaigrette for a hearty kale salad, or pour it into a pan and use it to sauté greens, like spinach.

The fillets: Stowell favors the fish in pasta; in his signature dish, noodles are tossed with chopped anchovies, olive oil, chiles and mint. But we're particularly taken with his method for pulsing the anchovies with butter. Melt it in a pan to sear meat, or add it to mashed potatoes for a whack of umami.