Unless they’re from the coastal provinces of France, Italy, and Spain, most people in the West are aware of anchovies as these headless, boneless, heavily salted little strips of fishiness canned in olive oil and used sparingly as either a pizza topping or as the primary flavoring agent for the dressing on a Caesar salad.
Here in Asia, however, anchovies are enjoyed in so many different ways. While most commonly enjoyed dried and mixed with arare (rice crackers) and nori as the Japanese version of Chex Mix, anchovies are also eaten fresh – usually filleted and batter-fried like whitebait. One recent supermarket discovery, as shown above, was a packet of dried, filleted anchovies.
Just like their unfilleted counterparts, these anchovies are sun-dried with a bit of salt and are best prepared deep-fried till crunchy. These are gloriously flavorful without much fishiness and have an appealing smoky aftertaste. Served with diced tomatoes dressed with a bit of patis (fish sauce; nuoc mam) with garlic fried rice, these make for an ambrosial breakfast.
One other way to use them: deep-fry till crunchy, as usual, then crumble over homemade (or store-bought) okonomiyaki or takoyaki to add additional flavor. 😉