Fig and Anchovy Spread (Fig Anchoiade)

28 Sep

Oh goodness! I found this unposted blog entry sitting in my draft box. I had meant to post it before leaving on vacation but my computer crashed and I never got around to finishing it. Not going to waste sharing a good recipe so here it is, a couple of months late.

Since I was having guests over for dinner some time in July this year and wanted to serve an appetizer platter, I needed another ‘dip thing’ to go with the tapenade I had already made. After searching around, I settled on a fig and anchovy spread which I found in a blog called Jakob’s Bowl. Interesting combination!

One site I googled said that figs ‘contain good levels of potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, copper and manganese. Dried figs contain an impressive 250mg of calcium per 100g, compared to whole milk with only 118mg.’ Another site mentioned anti-cancer properties. About.com says that ‘anchovies are often that secret ingredient that you just can’t put your finger on, the one that really makes the recipe pop.’

Furthermore, the blog entry sounded so convincing, it won me over. The recipe looked easy enough – it was a one-piece-of-equipment job and I like recipes which do not require using a lot of equipment. I went out and bought everything except the orange water as I wasn’t about to buy a bottle just to use 1 teaspoon!

I then set about making the anchoïade about two days before the dinner. While puréeing everything, the consistency didn’t look right and on tasting the purée, I found it salty – my anchovies were veeery saaaaalty – so I added another 2 figs. Phew, I didn’t have to throw it all away. Michael, the author of Jakob’s Bowl was right. This spread gets better every day it stands so it is a must that you make it in advance and leave it in the fridge for the flavours to develop. Sweet and salty at the same time. Spread on little pieces of toasted low carb bread or toasted baguette slices. My guests were very impressed.

Following is the recipe from Jakob’s Bowl which was adapted from one by Austin de Croze of Le Trésor Gastronomique de la France. I found the recipe somewhere else as well, using fresh figs, and the ingredients had again been adapted. I’m listing Jakob’s Bowl’s version, halved and free for you to adapt further to suit your taste. It made quite a bit, especially after I dumped in another two dried figs. These extra figs are not included below. I would suggest you add the anchovies bit-by-bit, tasting as you go.

Update 7/11/2011 – I mentioned above that I found another recipe using fresh figs. A couple of days ago, I saw some fresh figs in the supermarket and I thought, it’s now or never, buy them and try out the anchoïade using fresh figs to compare both recipes! Now let me make it clear that I am not a fig fan. In fact, I have never bought a fresh fig in my life especially since they don’t grow where I come from and are expensive. So to start off, the pureed fresh fig taste, didn’t gel with me at all. Anyway, I followed the recipe to the T. The result – hmmm, both my husband and I both said – this doesn’t taste good at all. I thought the spread would taste better a few days later, just like the version below made with dried figs but no, it didn’t get any better. It was also pink in colour – of course, fresh figs are pink inside. Texture-wise the whole spread was too ‘wet’ for my liking. Since no one wanted to eat the dip, I dumped the whole thing after 3 days. Definitely, anchoïade made with dried figs tastes a lot better. I know I didn’t make a mistake following the recipe because the end result looked like the photo in the recipe I used. Conclusion – unless you really like fresh figs, make your anchoïde using dried figs – the end result will taste better.

Fig  and Anchovy Spread (Fig Anchoïade)

3 dried figs (white, black or mixed), soaked in hot water for 15 minutes and drained

1/2 red bell pepper, roasted and skin removed

2 oz anchovy fillets packed in oil

1 clove garlic

9 blanched almonds

small handful flat leafed parsley

1/2 tsp fennel seeds

black pepper to taste

juice of quarter lemon

2 1/2 oz extra virgin olive oil (add bit-by-bit)

Put everything in a food processor except for the anchovies and oil. Put in only half the anchovies first. Turn on the food processor and add the oil in a slow steady stream. I only used half the oil. Watch the purée. It should be of a spreadable consistency. Taste the purée and if you think you can still add more anchovies, then go ahead. Otherwise, put the anchoïade into a glass jar and let it stand in the fridge till ready to use.

My nutritional info calculator says that this recipe contains 35gr of net carbs. You can spread quite a lot of little pieces of bread with this.

Print this recipe - Fig and Anchovy Spread

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