Add Anchovy Tablets To Your Pantry For Quick Seafood Stock

If you're always on the lookout to cut down your meal prep while also making your home cooking taste better, it's worth checking out other cultures' pantry essentials. One flavorful discovery comes from Korean cuisine: anchovy tablets, which are used to create a quick, flavorful seafood stock for different soups and stews.

These tablets serve the same function as bouillon cubes, which typically come in beef, pork, chicken, and vegetable flavors and can instantly fix the flavor of bland meals. Simply drop an anchovy tablet into a pot filled with 1 ½ cups of water; let it boil for three minutes, and you'll get a fish stock you can use to add umami to your dishes. Anchovy tablets are made with ingredients such as anchovies, kelp, radish, soybeans, shiitake mushrooms, garlic, and ginger that are dried, pulverized, and then pressed into tablets or cubes. Some have additional ingredients like clam extract for extra seafood flavor, similar to what Koreans use to prepare anchovy broth or myeolchi-yuksu from scratch.

Anchovy broth is used in plenty of traditional Korean dishes like maeuntang (fish stew), doenjang jjigae (soybean paste stew), odeng guk (fish cake soup), and tteokbokki (spicy rice cakes). That doesn't mean its use is limited only to Korean or even Asian cuisines. Since it's available in tablet form, you can easily incorporate its savory flavor into your favorite dish without worrying that it would overpower the taste and aroma of the other ingredients.

Anchovy tablets can be used in dishes other than soups and stews

Anchovy tablets are just as versatile as bouillon cubes, making them a solid addition to your grocery list. Beyond hearty soups and thick stews, they can be used to flavor quick one-pot dishes or something as simple as stir-fry. 

When cooking a dish like spaghetti alle vongole, add an anchovy tablet to boiling water and let it dissolve first before adding in the pasta. This will infuse the dish with a richer, deeper flavor. You can use one in your pilaf simply by grinding the tablet and sprinkling it over your meat and vegetables as you stir-fry them. Use the same method to season fajitas and gambas. 

Anchovy tablets are also handy for deglazing a pan and gathering the fond (those tasty, browned bits of food stuck at the pan's bottom after cooking something at a high temperature). It would be a pity to throw out these bits since they have an intense concentration of flavor that could be the perfect addition to another dish. Instead of scrubbing them out, pour a small amount of water into the pan and dissolve an anchovy tablet in it. Let the mixture come to a boil while you scrape the bottom of the pan to loosen the fond. Once it boils, lower the heat and wait for the liquid to reduce to half its amount. Season it with salt and pepper, and you've got yourself a savory pan sauce.