This recipe is from a manuscript that is kept in the Royal Library in The hague. It dates from around 1780. A transcription is in progress.
The original recipe
Neemt Anchovisch die schoon gewasschen, van de graaten gezuiverd en *wel vervarschd zijn, zet die met wat warm water op het vuur, totdat het geheel gesmolten is, met wat Peeper, fouly en Nootemuscaat, roerd ‘er dan Boter door tot een gebonde Saus, doed ‘er dan Limoensap, of het sap van een Citroen in, is zeer smakelijk.
Take anchovy that is well cleaned, with bones removed and well rinsed. Put it on the fire with some warm water until it has completely melted, with some pepper, mace and nutmeg. Then stir in butter to thicken the sauce, and add lime juice or the juice of a lemon. Is very tasty.
*wel vervarschd (well rinsed) – desalted by putting in water which has been changed regularly
Modern adaptation of the recipe
Butter sauce with anchovies can accompany all kinds of dishes and is often suggested for serving with meat or fish during the eighteenth century. I made this sauce for the surprise eggs.
Makes about 1¼ dl (½ cup) sauce; preparation in advance 10 minutes; preparation 5 minutes.
6 salted anchovy fillets
3 Tbsp water
pepper, mace and nutmeg to taste
100 gr cold butter
lemon juice to taste
Preparation in advance
Steep the anchovy fillets in milk or water for 10 minutes, then rinse and pat dry.
Put the anchovy fillets in a small pan with the water. Heat gently and mash the fish to a thin paste. Add pepper, mace and nutmeg. Beat the cold butter in small flakes through the sauce. Add lemon juice to taste, the sauce should have a slightly tart taste.
The sauce must be served at once, because the butter will solidify again when it cools down.
A small fish, Engraulis ecrasicolus, that lives in the Mediteranean and other waters. Where I live (The Netherlands, incase you hadn’t noticed yet), we seldom eat fresh anchovy. Our anchovy comes salted in glass pots or canned in oil. Use salted anchovy rather than in oil, the flesh is firmer, they taste better, and if you need but a few fillets, you’ll never get the can closed again. But if you use salted anchovy, take care to steep them in water or milk for ten minutes, else they’ll be too salty.
The editions below were used by me. Links refer to available editions.
- Manuscript KW 135 E 43, ca 1780. Koninklijke Bibliotheek, ‘s-Gravenhage. Transcriptie in voorbereiding.
A Dutch recipe for anchovy sauce from the 18th century
Anchovy sauce was popular during the 18th century, it is served with fish, with meat and with eggs.