Battle Expired Anchovy!

December 21st, 2006 by: cheyenne

I did not think twice about provisioning a dozen tins of anchovies when I did our pre-departure Trader Joes run. Surely we would be eating Caesar Salad every night and would be out by San Diego. As fate would have it, lettuce lasts poorly without refrigeration and the romaine variety is all but nonexistent south of the California border.

Now, a year later, I have many, many tins of anchovies and they are all expired. More importantly, anchovies lose structural integrity after a year in the tin and turn into brown mush. Brown mush interspersed with wee bones. Let this be a lesson to you all.

But I am determined and stubborn–if not particularly foresightful–about such matters and so every one of these tins of anchovies must be used up at all costs. Soon.

What the hell do you do with anchovies if you can’t make Caesar salad? A good question indeed; one which I would love to ask the Internet but alas, there’s no internet here.

Answer #1: Anchovy and Olive (also expired) Surprise on Toasts!

Anchovies are not the only expired can around here; in addition, we have a can of imitation abalone that Joshua bought a few years ago thinking it was funny and which I have no idea what to do with. Also several cans of milk products: sweetened condensed, “table cream,” evaporated (which is actually liquid), dulce de leche, and lactose-free regular. Also, a small tin of those lame sliced black olives whose presence in our lives is a huge mystery.

We had a loaf of stale ciabatta to eat and so we wrapped the bread in foil and toasted it over the burner in a makeshift lean-to of various pots and pan lids.

Then I mixed minced garlic (two cloves), the can of anchovy mush (minus oil), the sliced olives further sliced, one tomato diced finely, grated parmesan cheese procured from an Italian deli populated with products from the actual country of Italy (this is what saved the dish), olive oil, pepper, and hot sauce. We ate this over the toast and it was quite tasty. Improvements could be made by using more exotic olives such as Moroccan oil-cured. Also, using fresh anchovies.

Answer #2: Warm Multi-Pasta Salad!

Flush from the success of the first Anchovy Battle, we did something very similar but with pasta. Many of the same ingredients went into the ‘sauce’: one large tomato diced, can anchovy sludge (sans oil), chopped green herbed olives (also about to expire, jeez!), garlic cloves (minced), tablespoon or so of balsamic vinegar, olive oil, basil, oregano, salt (only if necessary because the anchovies are already salty), pepper, and a pinch of chili flakes. Mix together and set aside. Boil water and make pasta of choice (we used an artful mixture of left-over elbows, penne, and shells). Mix together and voila!

Answer #3: Puttanesca Sauce!

Puta madre! Another tasty pasta creation that leaves me one more anchovy tin down.

Mash together: a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, half tin of anchovy filets (bonus: mine just happen to be already mashed; I also used the whole tin), three cloves crushed garlic. Now, take half of this mixture and sauté it with three chopped or crushed roma tomatoes until they are soft. Add the rest of the mashed sauce, two tablespoons of capers, half a cup of olives (like good ones, not those canned black pitted nasties), and pepper. You probably won’t need any salt after the olives and anchovies. Simmer over low heat an additional twenty minutes and finally serve over pasta. We used the last of our high-quality Jasmine penne. This would be excellent with a bit of parmesan grated over the top. If parmesan existed anywhere within a 100-mile radius of this boat. Which it doesn’t. So sad.

Answer #4: Miraculous Anchovy and Almond Tapenade (tossed with veggies)!

Jerry and Joni from Lotus gave us an awesome cookbook, which I highly recommend to anyone on a boat (The Cruising Chef by Mike Greenwald). The current revised edition is an excellent read with easy to deal with recipes introduced with great stories and much humor. Lotus had two copies and I ended up with an original first edition from 1977 and it is such a gem; it’s loaded with ink illustrations and delightfully un-PC recipes and stories (whale hunting! MSG!). I immediately scoured it for anchovy recipes and found this.

For veggies, I steamed some green beans until just about done. Then I fried a bunch of chopped almonds and several garlic chunks in butter until they started to turn slightly golden (the almonds take longer than the garlic so I suggest starting the almonds, then adding the garlic later unless you want crispy brown garlic pieces). Here is where you add chopped anchovy filets, according to Mike Greenwald. Here is where I diverged from the recipe. Gazing at my anchovy filets-turned-mush, a delicious almond-garlic-butter aroma wafting around the galley, I decided to just leave them out actually and I chucked the tin. I added the green beans and stir-fried them in the almond butter garlic, adding salt and pepper. Very tasty.

Answer #5: Happily Trashed Anchovy Tin!

Enough already. I’m sick of anchovies now.

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Cheyenne Weil, Joshua Coxwell