Anchovies are one of those love-’em or hate-’em foods. My family is firmly in the former category. But however you feel about anchovies on your pizza or in your salad, no good cook should be without a jar of anchovies on the fridge.
I once read somewhere (it may have been in The Joy of Cooking) that a sauce or gravy that comes out a little bland could be punched up a bit by adding 2 or 3 mashed anchovies.
Let’s think about that a minute. If anchovies can enhance flavor, why use them only to correct a problem? I started to think about this when I encountered a couple of soup and stew recipes that called for a few mashed anchovies. Duh!!
So, now I routinely add anchovies to all of my soups, stews, gravies and many sauces. This does NOT add any “fishy” or other telltale flavor, but does make for a richer, more flavorful dish. This should not be too surprising, as other things that are distinctively flavorful (think Caesar Salad or Worcestershire sauce) use anchovies as a significant ingredient.
Given that anchovies are very inexpensive, and keep well stored in the olive oil in which they’re packed and refrigerated, they’re a great item to have on hand to give your cooking an extra edge.