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river cafe cook book
Salted anchovies are one of the principal ingredients at the River Cafe. Pesce Azzurro is the commercial name by which the italian government groups small fish like anchovies and sardines. Anchovies are graded by size then salted whole in large barrels or tins of 10kg in weight. The best fish are the largest and they should be red in colour. When a new tin is opened the salt pack should be dry. The shopkeeper will pick the required amount of anchovies carefully from the tin or barrel with wooden tongs to prevent moisture spoiling the remainder They are bought in Italy by the gram
river cafe cook book 2
The best salted anchovies come From Spain from the fishing ports of Omdarroa and Zumai on the Bay of Biscay. The season tests from April to June. The fish are caught sold graded salted and packed all on the same day. First the anchovies are graded by size the largest and most perfect being called Bar 1. These are always packed in 10kg tins. 16kg of fresh anchovies are carefully layered with coarse sea salt in and on top of the tins using a collar then pressed with cement blocks over a period of three months until they fit into the tin. Anchovies graded bar 2 are salted and packed in the same way in 10 kg and 5 kg tins. Anchovies graded bar 3 end bar 4are the smaller fish They are selected salted and packed into large barrels and pressed in the same way for three months then washed filleted and preserved in olive oil. Spanish salted anchovies from 10kg tins are sold all over Italy usually by the gram. Stalls selling just salted fish can be found in many markets. Ortiz the finest brand can be found in specialist shops in the UK. We buy Ortiz Bar 1 anchovies for the restaurant whenever possible.
To prepare salted anchovies taken dry from the tin rinse under a slow running cold tap to wash off any salt and carefully pull each fillet off the bone. Pat dry and use immediately or cover with extra virgin olive oil.
Tinned anchovies in oil are no substitute.
Slim elongated silveryblue anchovies are prized throughout the Mediterranean either fresh or salted. It is a cheap fish but a gastronomes dream. The beloved boquerones of Spanish cuisine the hamsi of Turkish and the gavros of Greek are baked with garlic olive oil lemon and oregano or they are fried crisp.
They are ubiquitous around the Mediterranean in their salted form. Nowadays however they are more familiar as fillets preserved in brine in jars or in tins with olive oil. There is no doubt that the best are the dried salted ones which should be rinsed properly before being used. People who object to the strong taste of anchovies occasionally first marinate them in milk and then rinse them.
Salted anchovies will liven up the most frugal of meals which explains their popularity since ancient times. They are used in pizzas with pasta in salads such as Salade Nifoise (qv) and pounded they make the French spread anchoĽade and the italian bagna ca(tm)da.
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