Although frequently underestimated, anchovies are a cheap and very tasty fish which in Croatia’s coastal regions are prepared in numerous interesting ways. For many fishermen fried anchovies have long represented a favourite snack, especially because small fish like anchovies were not particularly interesting to large customers such as hotels and restaurants until now. Traditional taverns were the places where anchovies could often be found on the menu, and apart from fried, marinated anchovies are also popular.
Anchovies are considered one of the best fishes for salting, the practical method of preservation for periods when fresh fish were hard to come by, whilst marinating is a simple way in which you can prepare the fish as a meal without much fuss and with just a few ingredients. When you buy fish at the market, check whether the fish are shiny with tightly packed scales and have a mild smell of the sea. Anchovies are small fish which are not expensive, and if you don’t want to eat them fried, you can marinate them in a sealed pot or jar.
Before marinating anchovies, it is necessary to wash and clean the scales off well, remove their innards and central bone and then fillet them as desired. Although they are thinner and narrower than sardines, anchovies are often mixed in with this species of fish, however, unlike sardines, the anchovies’ heads do not need removing during cleaning. The cleaned little fish can then be placed in the simplest marinade, one of just vinegar and lemon juice, and then put them in the fridge for three to four hours so that they soak up the best of the marinade.
They are tastier if left overnight, but they can also be eaten after just a few hours when their meat has turned white. Before serving, anchovies are briefly dried and are completed with a few drops of virgin olive oil for a special gastronomic treat. In order to make anchovies even more interesting, typical seasonings from the Mediterranean such as rosemary, bay leaves or thyme, as well as toasted pine nuts, chopped garlic or even chilli peppers for an extra kick can be added.