Anchovy (Photo by KitAy/flickr)

Fresh anchovies have white flesh and it is only after salting and leaving for at least a month that they develop the red color and special taste that one associates with fermented anchovies in jars or cans.


2 cupfuls anchovies, well cleaned with sea water
3 to 4 cups rock salt
2 tablespoonfuls best quality plain vinegar
3 tablespoonfuls brown sugar
1/2 cup kao koi (uncooked rice which has been toasted in a dry pan and then pounded to a powder while still hot)
2 tablespoonfuls galingale which has been grated and then dried out in the sun to make it fluffy


Marinate the fish in a mixture of the salt and vinegar for 1 to 2 hours, until they are soft and juicy, then mix well with the brown sugar and add the kao koi and galingale [galangal]. Let the preparation mature in a sterilised glass container for 3 to 4 months, or until the anchovies turn brown, with a clear liquid formed on top and a good aroma arising from the brew.

When you come to eat these preserved anchovies, season them with finely cut lemon grass, young ginger, spring onion, tamarind juice (made by squeezing fully ripe tamarind fruit with warm water until it turns into a brownish liquid), a little sugar and lime juice to taste.

Recipe excerpted from Encyclopedia of Asian Food by Charmaine Solomon (Periplus Editions, 1998)