"Anchov..." I have seen many a scrunched up nose and gag-reflex pantomime whenever the word is even beginning to be uttered. I am not very particular about my anchovies, loving them oil- or salt-packed, swanky or cheap, even all shriveled up and desiccated on a slice of pizza. But I understand how that tiny fish can be off-putting, unctuous and smelling of some dark forgotten corner of the ocean. Or the fish market.
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Enter white marinated anchovies. You'll see them flash their white, silvery plump bellies at Spanish tapas bars and occasionally they're curled up and perched on the side of a cocktail. Were it not for the name, anchovy-haters probably wouldn't even realize these were the same creatures they turn their nose up at.
White anchovies are marinated with vinegar, oil, garlic, and herbs; they're fleshy, tart, sweet, and most importantly, delicate. I had a Portuguese sandwich recently that was packed with house-pickled anchovies and a soft-cooked onion sauce. This recipe takes its inspiration from that: crusty bread is the perfect shell for the briny anchovies and a tart, quickly cooked sauce of fresh plum tomatoes, onions, garlic, and sherry vinegar. Cilantro leaves add a citrusy touch, and a slather of creamy mayonnaise curbs the acidity of the anchovies and tomatoes.