Forget The Bouillon And Let Anchovy Paste Flavor Your Stock

If you haven't flavored your homemade stock with anchovy paste before, now's the time to familiarize yourself with this intensely savory ingredient. A punchy blend of anchovies, salt, and sometimes olive oil, anchovy paste is a fantastic substitute for bouillon that gives broths, bisques, and stocks a complex character and mouthfeel.

Much like tomato paste, anchovy paste is often packaged in a tube, is super convenient, and can be stored in the fridge for condiment emergencies where instant savoriness is required. But why is this magic ingredient such a powerhouse of flavor? Because anchovies contain a natural form of glutamate — the clever stuff that lends foods like parmesan cheese, mushrooms, and tomatoes that super-savory taste described as umami. When introduced to other ingredients, the umami-ness present in anchovies gives soups and stocks a rounder flavor that makes them more satisfying.

These saltwater fish also have a characteristically salty taste because of the environment they live in and their diet. They lend a brininess to dishes but they don't taste particularly fishy, which is why they commonly feature in dishes like spaghetti puttanesca.

While bouillon is equally as versatile and convenient as anchovy paste for making stock, it does tend to contain additives, flavor enhancers, and preservatives. It also has lower amounts of protein than a stock made with chicken. Anchovy paste, on the other hand, is protein-rich (making it highly filling) and many shop-bought brands are free from additives. It lends stock a delicious salty lift without any unwanted extras.

How to use anchovy paste in stocks

To add instant flavor to your stock, you can add a touch of anchovy paste to your pan of sauteing veggies and aromatics. Once combined, toss in your chicken or meat bones, and pour in the water. Finally, allow the liquid to simmer until the collagen is released from the bones, to create a stock imbued with a salty, savory, and satisfying flavor. If you're not doing a saute stage, simply stir the anchovy paste into the pot with all the other ingredients. Feel free to use your rich stock to add complexity to anything from pho to goulash. Indeed, you could even use it to braise root vegetables or ladle it into a thick gravy to thin it down to the perfect pourable consistency.

Luckily, anchovy paste has a longer shelf life than canned or jarred anchovies, making it a great staple to keep in your fridge for when you need to add some oomph to a lackluster pasta sauce, soup, or stew. Simply squeeze it straight from the tube and replace the cap before refrigerating it for the next time you're craving a salty, savory kick. You can add it to salad dressings, marinades, and pizza sauce or mix it into an olive tapenade and spread it directly onto hunks of bread to make a savory sandwich filler.