Why You Should Consider Adding Anchovies To Your Spaghetti Sauce

Anchovies have long endured repulsion in America, but over the last decade, the tiny, silver fish have been campaigning for the hearts and acceptance that they receive in Italy and other countries. Fighting for the fish are countless food publications, casting pleas with headlines like, "Give Anchovies Another Chance," as well as grassroots advocates who are quick to defend the fishy misconceptions and champion their versatility.

Anchovies have gained significant ground, breaking from their misunderstood and undesired streak here in the U.S., but this is no new food fad or wave, this (fish) tale is as old as time. Centuries ago in ancient Rome, anchovies were an essential piece to their most popular and versatile condiment, garum. Garum is a fermented fish sauce that was used to flavor dishes, functioning as salt in the cooking process, used in sauces, and spooned over cooked meats, according to food historian Sally Grainger, author of "The Story of Garum."

Since the Roman Empire, anchovies have played an integral part in not only Italian cuisine, but the whole Mediterranean region — Caesar salad, Puttanesca, Bagna Cauda, and nearly any pasta sauce. So what about this fish makes it the versatile darling in Italian cuisine?

Anchovies are the secret sauce

For those who are still on the fence about anchovies but adore Italian food, hate to break it to you, but you've probably eaten anchovies countless times without noticing. If you've ever dined in Italy, or an authentic Italian restaurant, chances are anchovies are the base of the tomato sauce used in the pasta or pizza sauce.

Before you cringe at the thought of fishy chunks in your sauce, anchovies have this incredible ability to melt into the sauce, going texturally undetected. Fishiness isn't a worry either; The reason why this little fish is so prolific is the incredible umami and salty flavor punch it brings to a dish (via The Columbus Dispatch).

If you're new to cooking with anchovies, the best way to give them a shot is to add a few to your pasta sauce. Add the anchovies to the pan in the same stage as your aromatics, like onion and garlic, and watch as they melt into the pan. Just make sure to go light on the salt because the anchovies provide most of the salty flavor needed. Once you try it you may never go back, it'll have your guests asking, "this sauce is incredible, what's your secret?" No judgment, if you want to keep it that way.