The origin of this recipe is truly ancient. The art of preserving food in brine is as old as the oldest cultures in the Spanish peninsula.
Although this recipe is authentically malagan, it is popular all over Spain, you can find it in the bars in Bilbao as well as in Madrid. There is nothing too sophisticated about the recipe as it is nothing more than raw filets of anchovies bleached in vinegar and seasoned with oil, garlic and parsley.
The anchovies must be fresh with removed head, bones and viscera. The technique to clean them is to remove the head first with the spine, tearing up towards the tail. To avoid the danger of the parasite called anisakis, it is advisable to deep freeze the fish before for 48 hours below -18°C,
Wash the fillets in abundant water to clean all the blood. The ideal way to clean them is is to leave them for half an hour in cold water and change the water from time to time. After this time, drain them in a drainer.
Make the brine in a separate container by mixing fresh water, vinegar, two cloves of garlic, salt and a little bit of oregano, everything is stirred so that the salt is diluted. Some cooks carry out the anchovy test, that is, they put the anchovy in the brine and if the anchovy sinks, you have to dilute more salt until the anchovy floats. The ideal ratio for the vinegar-water mixture is 80% vinegar and 20% water.
Submerge the open anchovies into the brine creating layers on top of each other and let marinate for at least 10 hours. It is important that they are all covered with the brine so that they are “cooked” equally.
After 10 hours remove the white anchovies from the brine drying them carefully one by one on a paper towel.
Cut finely the rest of garlic and parsley. Place the dried filets in a glass dish sprinkling the surface with the mixture of garlic and parsley and cover with extra virgin olive oil. Before serving marinate in the fridge for a couple of hours.
Serve anchovies with parsley and garlic and add some green olives or roasted red peppers.
In 1940s there were not less than 13 factories specializing in salting and preserving sardines and anchovies.
For a long time, these factories threw away the heads and viscera of the anchovy and the sardine but later found an alternative so that they did not end up in the garbage can. The remains were used to produce by-products such as guano, used to fertilize the land, and fish oil. Some commercial companies of the cosmetic sector of Malaga refined the product and made it suitable for the production of toilet soaps. Anchovy soap anyone?