What to Eat in France: Anchoyade Languedocienne or Anchovies from the Ancient Province of Languedoc
Quand se garnis uno ensalado,
Fau qu’aquéu que met la sau fugue un sage;
Aquéu que met lou vinaigre, un avare;
Aquéu que met l’òli, un proudigue.–Popular minstrel rhyme
“When dressing a salad, the person who adds the salt has to be careful; the person who adds the vinegar wise, and the person who adds the oil generous,” said the wandering minstrels in Langue d’Oc.
Anchoyade is the langue d’oc spelling. In French (and in the Provençal dialect), it is written anchoïade. In English, anchoiade.
The former province of Languedoc bordered Provence, where anchoïde is king, but in Languedoc, anchovies are mashed into a paste. Anchoïade is to Provence what fondue is to the Savoy. When the anchovy mixture is pounded in a mortar, as it is in Provence, it is actually anchovy paste. Anchoyade Languedocienne differs in that the anchovies are fried and served whole.
Technically, anchoïade is considered a sauce in France, although it is eaten as we would eat dip, called bagna cauda, or banha cauda in Provençal, with fresh raw vegetables into which it is dipped, or as a spread on toast. It is also used to make Fougasse aux Anchois and on salads.
In the region, anchoïade is most often accompanied by a dry white Cassis wine.
This is a traditional recipe and is perfect for topping a salad. Today, it is almost always ground into a paste like in Provence before serving as a dip. If you wish to do this, see the instructions following the traditional recipe.
8 anchovies in salt
Cold water for removing salt
Milk for soaking
2 T. wine vinegar
3 T. olive oil
3 cloves garlic
Laurel leaf, crushed or in powder form
Pepper to taste
- Soak anchovies in water for one hour to remove salt.
- Split anchovies in half and remove bones. (Many anchovies we buy today have already had the bones and skin removed.)
- Rub lightly to remove skin.
- Soak in milk for 15 minutes.
- Pour enough flour to coat anchovies into a mixing bowl. Roll anchovies in flour.
- Place floured anchovies in a shallow baking dish. Sprinkle with vinegar.
- Roll in flour again.
- Heat olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat.
- Fry anchovies in this hot olive oil.
- Line the baking dish used above with paper towels. When anchovies are browned on both sides, remove them to baking dish.
- Crush garlic.
- Add to the olive oil left in the frying pan, along with laurel.
- When golden brown, add 1 T. flour and mix with a whip for one minute or until it forms a roux.
- Pour this roux over the fried anchovies.
- Pepper to taste.
- Cool before eating.
- Serve with toast.
- If it is to be served as a dip with raw vegetables, grind the mixture into a paste using a mortar and pestle.
Note: Many contemporary versions of anchoïade put the anchovy mix into a mortar and pestle and grind them into a paste. In this case, the anchovies are not cooked; breadcrumbs are used in place of the flour.