Fried fish evokes images and scents and thus memories of the summer season, alongside a bright sun, sandy beaches, crashing waves, warm breezes, clear and starry nights and easy-living and yet, anchovies are available all year long, so why not take advantage of this inexpensive delight all year long ?
Anchovies, especially the smaller ones, are around from January to December but in great abundance in September and October as well as January and thus inexpensive during those months at approximately 5€/kg.
One reason that many, including myself, hesitate to fry fish at home, is most probably because of the expected and often overly imagined lingering fish-frying smells, especially during the colder months when the windows are less often open, which is probably why that at any time you consider any fish frying activities, it will most probably occur in the summer months when all the doors and windows are still open. Surprisingly, frying anchovies is less smelly than sardines, another favorite, so fear not !
Cleaning them is another aspect to consider. When they’re small, around 10 cm or less, the heads can stay on and be consumed as well as the insides, but I prefer to clean them out partly by making a tiny slit on the belly, behind the gills and fins and squeezing and pulling out the blackish intestine and stomach, which only takes 5 minutes.
The beer and salt marinade add some flavor and clean the fish out even better before the flouring and frying and if your pan is the right size and the oil is at least 3 cm deep, you won’t even have to turn the fried anchovies over, so that’s one less step. Simply fry them in batches and place them on paper towels and keep them all in a warm oven as you continue frying them all until done.
Anchovies require very little additional flavors, so salt & pepper at the beginning and lemon and parsley at the end and the meal is ready !
Bring back the summer and have some tasty anchovies on your plates … :)