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Sep 11, 2010 09:23 AM

Tinned anchovy vs. anchovy paste?

A few months ago I finally got around to trying sauteed garlic, anchovy, and breadcrumbs as a pasta sauce. I used tinned oil-packed anchovy and the dish was delicious. I put the remainder of the tin in a plastic container in the fridge. The next day I decided to make another portion....HORRIBLE fishy taste on the second go round. It was like pasta with cod liver oil. The dogs loved it. Then I read somewhere on CH that once the tin is opened, the anchovies get fishy. Is it the chilling that changes them?

I imagine that anchovy paste doesn't need refrigeration and that this won't happen, but paste is not sold in nearby supermarkets. Is there any way to prevent the unpleasant change in tinned anchovies? I am cooking for one, so I can't use them all at once, even though the tin is small.

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  1. First off, welcome to the world of that wonderful pasta addition. We love it.

    Now onto your questions. I always refrigerate my anchovy paste. I don't know if you have to or not, but I figure better safe than sorry. I once had one explode in the pantry (lovely - you can imagine) that hadn't been opened, so there must be some sort of fermentation in there.

    Anchovy paste is my back up plan with this topping. My personal favorite, and trust me, where I live not always so easy to find (although, for some odd reason, the Super Target always seems to have it) is bottled anchovies. This isn't the fancy schmancy kind that costs an arm and a leg, but a tiny bottle with maybe 20 (total guess) anchovy fillets much like what comes in a can, along with some oil. The nice thing about this is that it is re-closeable, and doesn't sit in the tin with plastic wrap around it - it is closed tight again. The anchovies keep for ages. And I like these because I like the way they break up when they hit the hot olive oil in the pan - just a little use of the back of a wooden spoon and they're giving flavor to the whole thing. There are a few different brands, but the one that comes to mind right this minute is something like Reese or Reeses.

    1 Reply
    1. re: LulusMom

      I agree on the bottled anchovies. Anchovy paste is a great substitute, and I use it all the time, but it does have to be refrigerated after opening.

    2. Grey, I have found as soon as a tin of anchovies is open, it needs to be transferred from the tin to another re-sealable container, and topped up with olive oil so the remaining anchovies are not exposed to air. This (for me) seems to prevent them from becoming fishy.


      1 Reply
      1. re: spazita

        I did promptly transfer the remainder to a 4oz. Rubbermaid servin-saver containet, although I did not top it off with oil. I have another tin so I will try that next time.

      2. I use both. I take the paste out of the fridge an hour beforehand so it softens up and is more squeezable. Sometimes I want pieces for Caesar salad or deviled eggs and for those the tinned are better. As small as the tins are, leftovers are not an issue. Cooks' prerogative.