All the mock-authoritarian, faux-expert American foodwriters continue to tell you sea salted anchovies is the only way to go. Which is total nonsense. No matter how long you soak and rinse them they remain unpalatably salty. And bony. The best anchovy is a hand-filleted anchovy hand-packed in olive oil or vegetable oil.
Our Catalan Escala brand is an extraordinary anchovy, a remarkable little fish that exudes, oozes, is the definition of, UMAMI, an intense and almost unidentifiable nuttiness. I must say how surprised I am to learn that these Sicilian Girolamo anchovies are every single bit as remarkable as the Escala.
Balestreri Girolamo is one of those few surviving artisanal Sicilian food companies that has adapted to modern times and has remained profitable. Which is not to say that these ‘chovies are not hand-filleted and hand-packed, but that the company has modern machines to pack some of their production in those transparent vacuum-packed wedges that fit inside those throwback, fanciful, hatbox-size tins that began a century ago to display sea salt-packed ‘chovies that were sold by weight.
If you’re only pulling out the anchovies for the occasional, erstwhile, errant recipe you are missing the boat.
Anchovies like these are one of the most exquisite choices you will ever make when you need a show-stopping, conversation-killing (and re-starting!), knee-buckling food phenomenon to commence – on the side of a meal-size composed salad or absolutely all by themselves, 1-2-3-4 of them laid out, to accompany a cold glass of dry sherry or a glass of wine or a stein of cold pilsener. Nothing on earth is as rewarding as a fine anchovy.