For the third course of the menu with adapted recipes in the edition of Het excellente kookboek (The Excellent Cookbook) we decided to put some anchovies on the table as well. There is a still life by the German painter Sebastian Stoskopff (1597-1657) with a dish filled with anchovies as centre piece. It looks like there is a strange object in the centre. It looked like a transparent ball, or a creepy spider. But after taking a closer look, I discovered that these were simply the fish bones that were still attached to the anchovy fillets. Of course I had to try that myself. Since pickled anchovies are without bones, I had to start with fresh anchovies and pickle them myself.
In the Netherlands, fresh anchovies (Engraulis encrasicolus) may be bought at well assorted fish mongers but one has to know where to find them. It is easy to pickle them.500 gr fresh anchovy
For the brine
500 gr coarse kosher salt
50 gr dark muscovado sugar
1 Tbsp crushed black pepper
½ Tbsp crushed juniper berries
Rinse the fish under running water. Pat them dry and clean them, but leave the fish bone. All one needs to do is slice the belly of fish open and cut off the head. Remove the intestines with your thumb or a small spoon. Then rinse the fish once more and let them dry next to each other on a clean paper towel or cloth.
Mix the ingredients for the dry brine. Take a sterilized jar and cover the bottom with a layer of brine. Put some anchovies on top, add more brine, and so on until the pot is full. Place the closed pot in the refrigerator. Turn the pot upside down every few days, so the released moisture can spread. The first fish can be used after a week, but the contents will keep for months. Steep the fish for 15 to 20 minutes in water before using them, to make the fish supple again and remove an excess of salt.
To serve the anchovies in the style of Stoskopff, leave the fish bone attached to the fillets. Spread the fillets out on a round dish, and bend the fish bone back from the head-end to the tail. Press the end doen so it will stick. That is all.
The editions below were used by me. Links refer to available editions.
- Christianne Muusers, Marleen Willebrands (eds.), Het excellente kookboek van doctor Carolus battus uit 1593. With a contribution by Alexandra van Dongen. Sterck & De Vreese, 2020. ISBN 9789056156497.
Because I could not find pickled anchovies with the fishbone still intact, I created my own recipe.