Pizzerias are increasingly becoming innovative with their choices of toppings these days. Whether you go to Domino’s, Pizza Hut, or Papa John’s, you’ll find the anchovies replacing the humble pepperoni. But wait, is anchovy pizza good?
Anchovy pizza is damn good, but it can only be so if you find the right anchovies and figure out how to use them. Much like prosciutto, anchovies undergo a detailed curing process, resulting in a classic blend of briny, fruity, and savory flavor. Far from whether they taste good or not, anchovies are a rich source of Omega 3.
If you know little about anchovy pizza, rest easy. I’ll have a comprehensive discussion about it today. By the end of this discussion, you’ll learn what anchovy pizza is, what you need to make it, which pizza toppings pair with it, and so much more.
What is Anchovy Pizza?
For a better understanding, you first need to know what an anchovy is. An anchovy is a type of saltwater forage fish that mostly thrives in the Mediterranean Sea. It measures about 6 inches (15.24 cm) long and occupies the lowest rank on the seafood chain.
Being low down on the food chain means anchovies require little energy to survive. For that reason, they tend to be more sustainable than their bigger relatives. So, who introduced anchovy pizza?
History has it that around the 16th century, middle-class people from Naples, Italy, used anchovies as a traditional topping on their pizza. They even reared them because they have the lowest greenhouse emissions.
Because anchovies thrive in salty water, it’s obvious they’re salty. To prevent their pungent salty taste, Italians combined the anchovies with cheese and tomatoes to create a Neapolitan pizza. That’s the original anchovy pizza, which may also be called Italian pizza.
Anchovies have become a common choice for sauces, rubs, and dressings. They’re more common in Caesar dressing. If they’re filleted and rinsed correctly, anchovies can make great pizza toppings. They add amazing flavor to your pie.
What Do I Need to Make Anchovy Pizza?
To make the best anchovy pizza, you’ll need to use fresh anchovies. However, it’s not easy to find fresh anchovies. You can only find fresh ones in some parts of Europe, especially around the Mediterranean Sea or the English Channel.
The good news is, you can cure anchovies in salt and use them as an alternative to fresh anchovies. Usually, salt curing has no impact on the taste of fish. It would also be best if you chose the right ingredients to accentuate the flavor of the fish.
Try not to use a rich sauce, such as béchamel sauce, to prepare the anchovy pizza. This is because the anchovies have a rich flavor, and using an equally rich sauce could make the dish overly rich. I recommend using a mild tomato-based sauce as it goes well with the anchovies.
You might also want to use onions sautéed with garlic as a substitute for pizza sauce. This will serve as the base for the pizza to complement the fish. Furthermore, flavored varieties of cheese, like ricotta or mozzarella, are the recommended cheese topping for anchovy pizza.
Be careful not to use Parmesan cheese or other salty types of cheese. Using salty cheese types with anchovies may result in an overly rich salty flavor. Ideally, you want to use something that’ll balance out the saltiness of the fish.
Which Toppings Pair Well With Anchovies?
There are many toppings that may be used with anchovies on pizza. However, only a few are good enough to change the hearts of the most ardent anchovy haters. So here are the favorites:
These are prominent in Italian cuisines, and especially Southern Italy. They’re peppers used as a pizza topping. The Calabrian Chiles have slightly salty leaves, with a juicy and fruity flavor.
These versatile ingredients are not only a perfect companion for anchovies on a pizza but also other dishes. They form a unique flavor and enhance the dish. When you pair Calabrian Chiles with anchovies, they bring out the taste of crushed red pepper flakes.
Garlic and anchovies usually go well together. If you roast your garlic and use them on top of your anchovy pizza, you get a nuttier and sweeter flavor.
You can also crush the garlic and add them to your pizza toward the end of the cooking process. This way, you get the intense flavor. The brininess of anchovies combines with the tartness of garlic to produce a more potent punch.
Tomatoes are the best fit for those seeking flavor balance. Pairing tomatoes with anchovies brings out an even-keeled flavor with balanced acidity.
You’ll want to put fresh sliced tomatoes on top of the anchovy pizza to get that fresh and juicy flavor. The sweetness of fresh tomatoes can supply a soft texture to the anchovy pizza, creating an unforgettable combo.
These are native to Mediterranean cuisines, but you can still find them in many pizzerias worldwide. Most pizza restaurants use the small non-pareil caper, while some use large types like capotes to cover even more surface on the pizza.
Capers are primarily ideal for salt lovers. If you don’t seem to get enough of the saline punch of anchovies, add capers to the mix. When used on an anchovy pizza, capers add tanginess and smooth texture to your pie. And you’ll enjoy the full extent of sodium, which is incredible if you’re a salt addict.
When it comes to anchovy pizza toppings, possibilities are endless. If you’re a meat lover, why not go ahead and scatter ground sausage to your anchovy pizza?
Sausage can also come in handy when you don’t feel like eating veggies. Ground sausage usually has silky fat. When combined with these oiled-packed fish, the result is a genuinely luxurious pie with a delightful flavor.
How to Make the Best Anchovy Pizza?
To make an anchovy pizza with a unique umami flavor, you’ll need good Italian pizza dough. You can use store-bought dough, like TIP OO flour, or use my easy-peasy, no-knead dough recipe below.
- 1 ½ cup (190 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon fine salt
- ½ teaspoon instant yeast
- ¾ (180 ml) lukewarm water
How to Make Anchovy Pizza Dough – Recipe Instructions
- In a large bowl, mix flour, instant yeast, and salt.
- Gently shake until they blend.
- Add water and olive oil.
- Stir the mixture in the bowl until thoroughly combined.
- Cover the bowl and place it in a warm place. (High-hydration pizza dough doesn’t need any kneading. If placed in an area that’s warm enough, it’ll double in size after about 1 hour).
- Now, after approximately one hour, transfer the dough onto a flat surface.
- Dust the pizza dough with flour and stretch it using your fingers.
- Pleat the four sides of the dough and shape it. This OXO dough scraper is best for cutting, folding, and shaping the dough.
- Shape the dough into a ball and give it 20-30 minutes to rest.
- Come back and stretch the dough gently to form a 12-inch circle.
- The dough is finally ready. Add the topping and toss it in the oven!
There are no middle grounds with regard to the anchovy pizza. You can either love or hate it, but those who love it know its unique flavor. These little yet potent fish add brininess and umami qualities to the pie. Better yet, they’re chock full of Omega 3’s and proteins.