Semisalted Anchovies

Anchoas en Semi-Salazón
Chef: Víctor Arguinzóniz
Country: España
City: 48291 Axpe-Marzana. Atxondo. (Vizcaya).
Address: Plaza San Juan, 1.

Although it might seem an obvious truism –whether some people like it or not–, this has been the Best dish of the Year in Spain. As a whole, 2010 has undoubtedly been the most brilliant culinary year on the Iberian Peninsula, the one in which the general culinary level of the B-rated restaurants most increased. However, this collective improvement contrasts with the fact that we haven’t seen more outstanding avant-garde creations of haute cuisine than in 2009, maybe because the most famous and awarded chefs have shown some signs of stagnation. This year has generated more improvement than outstanding dishes, as confirms the few Dishes of the Year awarded in the Guide as well as the fact that this one has been selected as the best of all.

Can you imagine anyone beating the best Joselito ham? This is what Bittor Arginzoniz achieved with another gastronomic symbol, ie. the best salted anchovy in the world. He changed its taste –much more of fish and less of salt–, but keeping its natural identity; and altered its texture –juicier, meatier, not dry at all. This bite really transmits life and liveliness.
The cooking method is quite simple. The Cantabrian anchovies, caught in April, are kept in brine at room temperature for 4 months (30 grams per litre), until August, constantly covered and with a weight on them. They are then stored in a cool place, at 2º C, until the day they are served after being removed from the fridge, desalted in fresh water for 4 hours, deboned, cleaned and dried. They are finally presented with a toast and extra virgin olive oil.

The Recipe