Let chef Michael Pagliarini transport you to Rome – or at least to a Roman trattoria – with this recipe for alici marinate. Anchovies, a popular bar snack in Italy, are paired with the sweetness of charred bell peppers marinated with basil, garlic and olive oil. Leave yourself an extra day to brine the fresh anchovies for extra bragging rights. Can’t find fresh ones? Look for olive oil-packed, high-quality anchovies at your local market. Salt-packed anchovies can be used as well but will have to be fileted before use.
- 5 ounces white wine (Vermintino di Sardegna, or whatever white you have open in the fridge, preferable oak-free)
- 4 ounces White wine vinegar
- 3 teaspoons Salt
- 1/2 cup Olive Oil
- 2 red bell peppers
- 2 yellow bell peppers
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 8-10 large basil leaves
- 1/2 cup golden raisins
- Olive oil, to drizzle
- Lemon juice to taste
- Small pinch of fennel pollen
- Aleppo chili, to taste
- 1/4 bunch parsley, chopped
- 1/2 cup olive oil for preserving and some extra for drizzling
- 2-3 lemon wedges
- Rinse the anchovies under cold water.
- Remove scales by running the back of a small kitchen knife against the fish while applying pressure. Rinse again to wash away scales.
- Remove the heads by making a diagonal cut where the fillets meet the head, preserving as much of the meat as possible.
- Remove the guts by making a small cut under the bottom fin and along the belly.
- Clean the cavity of the fish by pushing through it with your thumb. Lift out the backbone with your fingers.
- Rinse the fillets one final time and shake off the excessive water.
- Place the fillets in a non-reactive container and cover with the brine for 24 hours.
- Rinse the fillets under cold water and pat dry with paper towels. They are now ready to season and eat.*
- Char the peppers over the open flame of a kitchen burner, or better yet, on a charcoal or wood grill. Roast until the skins are black and blistered and the flesh of the peppers is soft and giving to the touch. While still warm, put the pepper in a covered container and allow the steam to loosen the skins. When cool enough to handle, remove the skins.
- Fillet the pepper and cut them into strips, removing the seeds. Strain the juice from the bottom of the bowl back over the pepper strips. Season to taste with salt, pepper and top with a generous amount of olive oil.
- Tear the fresh basil leaves and add them to the peppers along with one crushed clove of garlic that has been gently browned in olive oil. Allow the peppers to marinate for at least one hour before serving.
- Meanwhile, pour enough warm water (along with a splash of white wine, if desired) over the raisins to cover. Allow the raisins to plump for about half an hour.
- Arrange the anchovy fillets on a plate and season them with the fennel pollen, Aleppo chili, fresh lemon juice, parsley and olive oil. Add a pinch of sea salt and freshly milled black pepper.
- Arrange the marinated peppers, raisins and lemon wedges next to the fish.