Whether you know it or not, anchovies are probably part of your diet — not only in the dressing on your caesar salad but also in the jarred goods in your kitchen like Worcestershire sauce, some barbecue sauces, kimchi, garum, and that delicious caponata that you’ve spread on bread (via WebMD). According to Bon Appétit, anchovies are often the secret ingredient used in recipes to provide umami, that “fifth taste” that adds savoriness to a dish. Per Healthline, foods with high levels of the amino acid called glutamate, like Parmesan cheese, soy sauce, and anchovies, naturally have umami. MSG (monosodium glutamate) is commonly added as a seasoning to enhance umami in a dish.
If you aren’t ready to drape whole anchovies on a piece of crostini just yet, there are ways you can and should incorporate the fish into your cooking — without anyone else knowing. Giada De Laurentiis said more people should eat anchovies by using anchovy paste, sold in a tube like toothpaste so it’s easily added to sautéed onions and garlic for pasta sauce or dressing. The ingredient practically disappears into hot oil, so no one will be able to identify it even while remarking on that desirable savoriness. The same is true with whole fillets, which stay good in the fridge for months when stored properly. Try adding anchovies to your favorite pasta puttanesca recipe — made even more delicious with a topping of breadcrumbs sautéed with anchovies and olive oil, promise!