"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.
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.
Note: Turn this into a brunch sandwich by adding a soft-boiled egg.
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 plum tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch-thick wedges
- 1 small yellow onion, peeled and thinly sliced from pole to pole (about 1/2 cup)
- 2 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
- 2 (6-inch) crusty rolls, such as ciabatta, halved
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 4 ounces marinated white anchovies
- 1/4 cup packed cilantro leaves
Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the onion, tomatoes, and garlic and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion and tomatoes are softened and the mixture has a sauce-like consistency, about 5 minutes. Stir in the vinegar and cook, stirring, for 1 minute longer. Remove from heat.
Spoom half the tomato sauce on 1 side of each roll and top each with half of the anchovies. Sprinkle with cilantro. Spread 1 tablespoon mayonnaise on the remaining roll halves, then top the sandwiches and serve.