Italian Fresh Marinated Anchovies Recipe

A delicious mediterranean diet recipe and an Italian classic: Fresh Marinated Anchovies! With lemon, vinegar and fresh Italian herbs, this Italian food recipe is a classic as an appetizer or even a main dish. Much like the ceviche of South America, the fresh anchovies are cured with acidic juice and a bit of salt.

We highly recommend watching Italian Grandma Lulu’s recipe on how to prepare this dish—with food safety in mind!

A closeup look at our fresh anchovies after an Italian marination!

Watch the Video Recipe!

If you prefer to watch a video recipe, click on the video below.

Nonna Lulu prepares fresh marinated anchovies!

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How to Make Fresh Marinated Anchovies

Freeze the Fresh Anchovies

Blue fish like anchovies can contain dangerous parasites which can cause foodborne illness or even death. For the same reason, you’ll want to take these precautions when preparing South American ceviche recipes.

For this reason, you will need to FREEZE the anchovies for a week before marinating them. Freeze them at -4°F (-21°C) per the FDA recommendations. The process of freezing the anchovies kills the most dangerous of the parasites that they can contain.

Our filleted anchovies after a week of freezing.

FDA Recommendations

To learn more about the FDA recommendations for fresh fish like this, check out this link: https://www.fda.gov/media/80777/download

If you are using fresh whole anchovies to make this dish, it’s important that you properly prep the anchovies.


Fillets Without Bones

For this recipe, we need to start with with anchovy fillets that have had the head, organs and spine removed. Many of you will just purchase the anchovies like this (already prepped) from the supermarket or fish market.

For those of you who would prefer to start with whole fresh anchovies and remove the spine, head and organs yourself, see our guide on how to prepare anchovies.

We typically marinate 30-40 fresh anchovy fillets at a time when making this recipe.

Vinegar and Lemon

A look at our ingredients!

Combine two tablespoons of vinegar with the juice of one to two fresh lemons.

Garlic and Herbs

Now we add our Italian flavors:

  • flat leaf italian parsley: a large handful
  • fresh marjoram: a few sprigs
  • fresh thyme: several sprigs
  • fresh garlic: 2 cloves
  • ginger: a small piece (optional)
  • lemon zest: from 1 lemon

Finely mince the herbs and garlic to blend all of the flavors!

How to Make Fresh Marinated Anchovies

Marinate the Fresh Anchovies

It takes at least five to six hours for the fish to cure in the acidic marinade.

Add a layer of fresh anchovy filets to a shallow container, insides up.

Cover the anchovies with the acidic vinegar and lemon mixture and a generous sprinkle of fine salt.

Adding Lemon and Vinegar (mixed) on top of the first layer of fresh anchovies

Then, top with a generous amount of the minced herbs.

We like to add a few red peppercorns to our fresh marinated anchovies because we have a lovely red peppercorn tree outside of the PIATTO™ kitchen in Italy. The red peppercorns add a pop of color and flavor, but they are totally optional. You could instead give the anchovies a pinch of white or black pepper.

Adding the minced herbs… and a few peppercorns (optional)!

Once you’ve added the marinade to one layer of anchovies, you can stack a second layer on top of the first (adding the lemon/vinegar and minced herbs as before). Or, use a second shallow container for the next layer of anchovies.

Adding Vinegar and Lemon to the second layer of fresh anchovies

Top the marinating anchovies with some fresh lemon zest and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil!

Ready to marinate for at least 6 hours.

Let the fresh anchovies marinate in the refrigerator for about 6 hours. Even better, let them marinate overnight!

After the marination, the anchovies will completely change their color. The fish meat will turn grayish-white in color. Even though these fish now look cooked, they are not.

Look how the fresh anchovies have changed color!

A common way to enjoy Italian Fresh Marinated Anchovies? On a piece of fresh Italian bread covered with a thin layer of butter! They are so fresh and delicious!

A nice plate of marinated fresh anchovies.
Lovely!

FAQ: Does the acid ‘cook’ the anchovies?

While these fresh marinated anchovies might look cooked after they have marinated, they are not! The salt and the acid from vinegar and lemon will partially cure these fresh anchovies. They will change color during this curing process, which makes many people erroneously think they are actually cooked with the acid.


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Italian Fresh Marinated Anchovies Recipe

PIATTO RECIPES
Fresh Marinated Anchovies! With lemon, vinegar and fresh Italian herbs, this Italian food recipe is a classic as an appetizer or even a main dish. Much like the ceviche of South America, the fresh anchovies are cured with acidic juice and a bit of salt.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 6 hours
Cook Time 0 minutes
Freezing to Kill Parasites 7 days
Total Time 7 days 6 hours
Course Appetizer, Main Course, Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine Italian, Mediterranean
Servings 10 people

Ingredients
  

  • 40 fresh anchovy filets see notes about freezing!
  • 2 whole lemons juice and zest
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar or similar vinegar
  • 2 tsp fine salt or as needed
  • 1 handful flat leaf Italian parsley minced
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme minced
  • 3 sprigs fresh marjoram minced
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic minced
  • olive oil extra virgin; drizzle
  • fresh ginger optional (to taste)
  • red peppercorns optional (to taste)

Instructions
 

Prep the Fresh Anchovies

  • If you are not buying the anchovies already prepped (head, organs and spine removed), you'll need to prep them using our guide: https://www.piattorecipes.com/how-to-prepare-fresh-anchovies/
  • Prep about 40 anchovy filets for this recipe.
    40 fresh anchovy filets

Freeze the Anchovies

  • FREEZE the anchovies for a week before marinating them. Freeze them at -4°F (-21°C) per the FDA recommendations. The process of freezing the anchovies kills the most dangerous of the parasites that fresh anchovies can contain.

Prepare the Liquid

  • Combine the vinegar and freshly squeezed lemon juice.
    2 whole lemons, 2 tbsp white wine vinegar

Mince the Garlic and Herbs

  • Mince together the garlic and herbs.
    1 handful flat leaf Italian parsley, 4 sprigs fresh thyme, 3 sprigs fresh marjoram, 2 cloves fresh garlic, fresh ginger

Prepare the Anchovies

  • Prepare one layer of anchovy filets (insides up) in a shallow container or dish.
  • Cover with the lemon/vinegar mix and a generous sprinkle of fine salt.
    2 tsp fine salt
  • Top the anchovies with a generous amount of minced herbs.
  • Top with a second layer of anchovies, covering with lemon/vinegar, salt and herbs as you did previously.
  • Add a drizzle of olive oil, peppercorns (optional) and the lemon zest.
    olive oil, red peppercorns
  • Cover and leave in the refrigerator to marinate for at least 6 hours. Buon appetito!

Video

Notes

Food Safety
Fresh anchovies (like all blue fish) can contain a parasite which can make you very ill or kill you. Acidic marinades and salt alone will not kill these parasites.
FREEZE the anchovies for a week before marinating them. Freeze them at -4°F (-21°C) per the FDA recommendations. The process of freezing the anchovies kills the most dangerous of the parasites that fresh anchovies can contain.
Please see our guide on how to prepare fresh anchovies for details.
Looks Cooked—but is NOT!
After the marinade, the fresh anchovies will change color. They may look cooked but they are not. Just as raw sushi carries the risk of certain foodborne illnesses, so too do Marinated Fresh Anchovies.
Keyword seafood
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