A Lesson on Cured Italian Anchovies: 5 Reasons You Should Start Cooking with These Flavour-Packed Fish

"Just a fillet or two goes a long way, and they’re kind of magical in that they practically melt into your dish."

Delightfully bold, salty and pungent, cured anchovies add that special something to savoury dishes.


A staple of Italian cuisine, filetti di alici sott’olio – cured anchovy fillets in oil – and acciughe salate – whole brined and salt-packed anchovies – are loved for their distinctive umami taste. Read on for why they’re the flavour-boosting ingredient foodies favour.

  1. Anchovies Score High on the Umami Scale

Along with two other Italian foodie favourites, Parmigiano-Reggiano PDO and truffles, cured anchovies are one of the most umami-rich foods, meaning they’re the ultimate in satisfying savoury flavour.

  1. Anchovies Will Give Your Cooking Italian Flair

Keep a jar of anchovies on hand, and you’ll be able to whip up many of Italy’s most beloved dishes, such as spaghetti alla puttanesca (a tomato-based sauce that features anchovies, olives and capers), bagna càuda (an anchovy-infused dipping sauce that’s paired with raw or cooked vegetables), or a fresh, no-cook salsa verde (made from a mixture of coarsely chopped anchovies, Italian extra virgin olive oil, garlic and fresh herbs).

  1. Anchovies are Quick & Easy to Use

Filetti di alici sott’olio (cured anchovy fillets in oil) come in jars, tins or plastic packages. The best are stored in Italian extra virgin olive oil, sometimes with seasonings, such as dried herbs or chilis. Just a fillet or two goes a long way, and they’re kind of magical in that they practically melt into your dish.

Meaty and firm in texture, acciughe salate (brined, salt-packed whole anchovies) are a gourmet delicacy. Though they need a little extra preparation – rinsing and removing the spine and tail – before using, they’re ideal for antipasti, salads and even to top grilled bread (with a generous drizzle of Italian extra virgin olive oil, of course).

  1. They’re an Affordable Gourmet Ingredient

Even the most premium Italian cured anchovies are friendly on the wallet, and they store well as a pantry staple. Once opened, refrigerated anchovies can last for several months. Anchovies packed in a tin should be transferred to a container and completely submerged in oil to prevent spoilage.

  1. Anchovies Are One of the Most Sustainable Fish (And They’re Good For You!)

Not only are anchovies a sustainable choice, like other small, oily fish, they’re packed with good-for-you Omega-3 fatty acids and many vitamins and minerals. Discover more on How to Build a Healthy Italian Pantry.


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