Anchovy dressing is a type of oil and vinegar dressing made with anchovies. Good for bitter salads or toppings for vegetables, this dressing is relatively quick and simple to make. Salty, without being overly fishy, anchovy dressing is considered an emulsion.
In addition to anchovies, vinegar and oil are required for this dressing. Usually balsamic, red or white wine vinegar is used, though some versions may replace the acidic vinegar with lemon juice. Since the oil is an active ingredient and not simply used for cooking, extra virgin olive oil must be used. Regular olive oil or vegetable oil that is sufficient for cooking will not provide a good flavor for a dressing base. Other oils, such as canola, may sometimes be combined with the olive oil, however.
Garlic, normally crushed, is also usually added to anchovy dressing. Crushing garlic is a relatively simple process. Once peeled, the garlic is then mashed underneath a large spoon. Alternatively, a garlic press can be used for more even results and less elbow grease.
The simplest recipes will only contain those four ingredients. Most recipes, however, will include additional flavorings. Worcestershire sauce, shallots, and lemon juice — regardless of whether or not vinegar is included — are often added.
Salt and white or black pepper are usually added to taste as well. Herbs, like rosemary, may occasionally appear in some versions. Egg may also be included, and less common versions will soak the anchovies in milk prior to preparing the dressing.
To make anchovy dressing, the anchovy fillets are first cut into small pieces. Then they are mashed in a bowl with the seasonings and herbs, or placed in a blender with the vinegar, lemon juice, and mustard and pureed. If whisking, the wet ingredients are added one at at time, each whisked thoroughly before the next is added. The oil is usually the last element to be added, though some recipes include the shallots and Worcestershire sauce after the oil.
Since anchovy dressing is an emulsion, the oil must be poured into the mixture slowly and steadily. A food processor should be running or the cook should be whisking the entire time the oil is being poured. If the oil is not included in this way it will not mix correctly with the rest of the ingredients.
Usually liquid, an emulsion is a mixture of ingredients which do not actually combine, though they appear to. Emulsions often separate when left undisturbed for a period of time, like oil and vinegar. When the cook stirs the oil into the mixture as it is being poured, he or she is actually allowing small beads of oil to be suspended temporarily inside the liquid, creating a mixture that is otherwise impossible.