Anchovy Paste Has The Salty Flavor All Your Dishes Have Been Missing

We know, we know. We're trying to sell you on using anchovies in your cooking again. But trust us, despite sharing the same ingredients, anchovy paste is a completely different product from the tinned filets we're all familiar with. The ingredients — anchovies, salt, and olive oil — are processed to form a thick, concentrated, grey paste. Not appetizing to look at, but believe us when we say it will change the way you cook. 

When eaten on its own, you'll definitely get that classic, fishy anchovy taste. However, when it is incorporated into other dishes, anchovy paste barely registers. Hang on! How can that be? If anchovy paste is just pulverized anchovies, won't that fishy taste permeate the whole dish? No, actually, it won't. Even though it is concentrated, when measured amounts of anchovy paste are in a dish, it merely provides deeper, more nuanced flavors. That fishy taste is mellowed out to the point of no existence. Only the salt remains.

Because of this, anchovy paste has the potential to elevate almost any kind of food you add it to. Whether you're buying it in one of those toothpaste-looking tubes from the grocery store, or making your own in the food processor, anchovy paste has a number of applications that can really take your cooking to the next level. 

How to use anchovy paste

There are next to no limits on how you can use anchovy paste in cooking. It can incorporate seamlessly into soups and salad dressings giving each a slightly salty lift, but also adding depth and increasing the complexity of the flavor profiles. However, you need to be careful with your measurements. A little goes a long way, and adding too much could bring out those fishy flavors you're hoping to avoid. 

Where anchovy paste really does wonders is with meat and vegetables. Almost any sautéed vegetable will have its flavor instantly elevated with the addition of a little anchovy paste. With meat, it provides that desired salty element. A leg of lamb, for instance, will have its robust flavors enhanced with anchovy paste mixed into the rub. On steak, you can rub it all over and leave it to cure in the fridge for 24 hours. When all the flavors have combined, you have yourself a quasi-aged steak that's going to cook up brilliantly, and the paste will even help to tenderize the meat.

As with soups and salad dressings, adding anchovy to pasta sauce will add depth and complexity. It works really well with tomato-based sauces, and is especially welcome in a good ragu or bolognese. However you choose to apply your anchovy paste, you'll wonder why you hadn't thought to do it sooner.