Lamb and anchovy is classic. It’s not even modern classic, it’s been going on for years, centuries even - since the 1600’s when foreign food became all the rage. Lea & Perrins have been shoving them in Worcestershire Sauce since 1837 and who doesn’t whack that in their shepherds pie (me, actually)?
Few of us will be able to get our hands on fresh anchovies, and even if we could they wouldn’t be the right pairing for lamb, we need the salted tinned type for this, and don’t even think about being all fancy-pants and upgrading to the marinated white version, the vinegar is too overpowering.
You don’t need a deep fat fryer either, we can achieve the same result in a regular saucepan.
75g plain flour
25g corn flour
½ table salt
½ baking powder
Ice cold water
1 litre vegetable/sunflower oil
Extra plain flour, seasoned, for dusting
Heat the oil in a medium size sauce pan over a gentle heat. You may not need a litre, use whatever it takes to fill the pan to no more than half. Seriously. This is how forest fires start.
Make the batter by adding the corn flour to the flour with the salt and baking powder (and yes, you still need the salt in the batter despite the anchovies already being salt-tastic), combine this, then whisk in the water by making a well in the centre and pouring it in gradually.
My preference here is to make a thin tempura style batter, rather than a thick ‘sweet and sour chicken balls’ style batter. This will give you frilly edges and lots of what I call scrumps, you may call them scraps. You may not care either way.
Drain the anchovies firstly in a sieve set over a bowl, then blot them on kitchen paper. Change the kitchen paper and blot them again.
Toss them in the seasoned flour, then shake of the excess, like you’re shaking a pair of dice in your cupped hands….I love Yahtzee, don’t you? Anyway…
Test the temperature of the oil by dropping in a little blob of batter off a spoon – it should fizz and bob straight back to the surface. You want to feel comfortable that if you left that in there for another minute it would come out the colour of French fries, not too dark, nor too crispy, undercooked, overcooked or Wombling free.
You could of course use a thermometer and go for 190 ⁰C.
Once your satisfied you’ve got the temperature right, starting dunking the floured anchovies in the batter, and dropping them two or three at a time in the oil, so as not to overcrowd the pan. Turn them over and separate them if they clump together, give them only a minute or so until they look pale and crispy, then lift them out with a slotted spoon and drain them in a sieve set over a bowl. Repeat. Rejoice.