Holiday Cooking With Crys: Alici Marinate

Not that I’m complaining, but while my boyfriend keeps working on his parent’s house, there really isn’t much to do here in the countryside in Romania. We’ve unfortunately arrived too late to pick the fruit and too early to pick the grapes for wine, and the last time I helped him do “manly things” like digging holes or mixing cement, I caused such a stir in the town that his father was teased for weeks afterwards. So, not wanting to be the cause for embarrassment, one of the only things I can do here is cook. So, time for some time consuming yet delicious recipes everyone! Today, I made an Italian favorite, alici marinate.

Alici marinate are marinated anchovies. Depending on how you prepare them, they can keep for several months, and make for a great on-the-go lunch. Anchovies are, in my opinion, a very odd sort of fish. I love them when they are fresh or marinated, I cannot stand them when they are preserved in salt, which happens to be their most famous form. In fact, salted anchovies are one of the two only kinds of fish that I hate and cannot eat even to be polite. In Italy, anchovies even have two names: when they are fresh or marinated they are alici, and when they are salted they are acciughe.

Aaanyway, if you want to know how to make some killer alici marinate, recipe and pictures below the fold.


Step 1: Choose your anchovies. While it does save you time, try to avoid buying anchovies that are already cleaned, as you have no way of telling how fresh they were. Check the clarity of the eye and the integrity of the bellies, as anchovies are very delicate and tend to disintegrate quickly.

Once you pick some nice, fresh anchovies, you need to either clean them, or ask the nice fishmonger to clean them for you. Cleaning them is very easy though, and best done under running water. Just pull off the head, then run your finger down the belly to open it up, and remove the viscera and the spine. When you’re done, you’re left with a lovely little anchovie filet.



Once you have your fresh filets, you need to “cook” them in some kind of acid. What kind, and for how long, will depend on how long you want them to keep. Generally, anchovies are “cooked” in either lemon juice or white wine vinegar, although I have also heard normal white wine being used. The more acidic the medium the less it takes to cook them, but the more sour the final product is, and it is generally agreed that a good alice marinata is one that is not sour.

The anchovies are cooked when they turn white. However, if you want to keep them longer, you’ll want to “overcook” them. So the general idea is this: if you want to eat them immediately, cook them in something less acidic, like watered down lemon juice, and remove them as soon as they start to turn white (which will take 1-2 hours). If you want them to keep for longer, add salt and white wine vinegar and marinate them for 4-6 hours. The longer the anchovies stay in the oil the less sour they get, so ovecooking them wont be a problem if you plan on keeping them long. If you want to cook them in white wine leave them there for 8 hours, and don’t keep them longer than a week in the fridge.

No matter how you cook them, once they turn white you want to dry them completely, or they’ll be sour no matter what. Pat them completely dry with paper towels, then it is time to put them in oil.



If you want to eat them right away, you can just use a tupperware. If you want to keep them for longer, you should sterilize some jars in boiling water, but let them cool down completely before adding the anchovies.

This time around I made them in three ways: either in plain olive oil, in oil with garlic and parsely, or garlic parsely and chili. If you want to eat them right away, mince the garlic and parsley. If you want to keep them longer it’s better to slice the garlic, or it might get too powerful once you open the jar. Make sure the oil is of good quality and that the anchovies are completely covered with it when you put them in the fridge.

After that, pop a jar and enjoy some marinated anchovies in salad, or on toasted bread. Mmmhmmm. Yummy.


  1. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    This sounds delicious! Salted anchovies are too salty for me too.
    The only issue I have is that I can very very rarely buy fresh anchovies over here. Maybe small sardines could pass? I don’t know why there are never any nonfrozen anchovies, maybe we’re exporting them all to Italy 🙂

    • thoughtsofcrys says

      Actually I have previously asked if small sardines would do, and got a lot of blank staring, like “we never thought about that… but I’m going to go with no… because reasons… like no one has ever done it before”. I think sardines would be a little fishier than anchovies, but I’ve always wanted to try marinating them to see what would happen! Maybe you’ll beat me to the punch!

      • perodatrent says

        I marinate what I can find, and both are eatable. Of course, the leaner the fish, the better the taste.
        I even have used “sarde papaline” (sprattus sprattus), but they are too fat.
        Only an advise: if you don’t want to risk an Anisakis infection, you’d best freeze the fishes at least 48 hours before marinating them.

  2. Ice Swimmer says

    The Fennoscandians pickle baltic spratt and call it anjovis (Finnish) or ansjovis (Swedish) and use it for Jansson’s frestelse and boiled-egg-and-anjovis open sandwiches.

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