Can I interest you in some hairy fish?
This misunderstood member of the herring family packs a huge punch. And when served improperly, an anchovy can leave an indelibly unfavorable mark upon your pallet. But consider this – when served properly, they provide the flavor that makes caesar salad taste like caesar salad. In fact, scientists consider the intense and superior taste of an anchovy to possess “umami” – a flavor that is neither sweet, sour, bitter or salty, but simply savory. Umami can also be found in parmesan cheese. So removing the cheese, but keeping the anchovy paste tricks the palette into tasting that it’s still there. Don’t believe me? Give it a try.
And that hair? It’s actually tiny bones that protrude from the body of the fish. I know…I’m really not selling anchovies as well as I might, but it’s worth knowing that these bones are easily digested because they are so tiny and the salting process softens them. You, however, in the making of this delicious salad dressing, don’t have to concern yourself with anything other than finding a small tube of anchovy paste at your market. I go to Little Italy in San Diego to a lovely gourmet shop to get mine. The ingredients should include nothing more than anchovies, olive oil and salt. And it’s a bargain at $2.49 for a 2 oz. tube.
This recipe makes a cup of dressing. If you are going to use only a portion of it, I would recommend adding the anchovy paste only to the portion you serve because the anchovy flavor that is perfect for serving the day you make it, will intensify the next.
So be brave, and you’ll be so surprised at how delicious this is. If you can tolerate cheese, the parmesan is wonderful, however, a whole slew of 12 and 13 year old girls love this sans the dairy! And for you kids out there who need something tasty to dip your carrots and celery into, give this dressing a try.
Prep time: 8 minutes
Total time: 8 minutes
Yield: 1 cup
1 c. homemade mayonnaise or Veganaise
2–3 T lemon juice
1 large garlic clove, crushed
1 1/2 inches of anchovy paste, squeezed from the tube
lots of freshly ground pepper
2 T c. grated parmesan cheese optional
- Mix everything together in bowl, whisking until thoroughly combined. Taste and make seasoning corrections to your specific taste. I like mine really lemony, with lots of garlic, so one clove may not be enough.