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Tomato Toasts with Lime-Pickled Anchovies

Tomato Toasts with Lime-Pickled Anchovies

Recipe by Chef Stuart Biroza

Reprinted with permission from State Bird Provisions: A Cookbook by Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski with JJ Goode, copyright © 2017. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

Makes about 20 toasts


Lime-Pickled Anchovies
1 3/4 cups water
3/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp lime juice
6 Tbsp kosher salt
1 medium garlic clove, thinly sliced
1 medium jalapeño chile (including seeds), thinly sliced
10 basil leaves
1 pound fresh anchovies (each 3 to 4 inches long)
About 1/4 cup grapeseed oil

Tomato Toasts
1 pound soft ripe heirloom tomatoes, halved
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
About 6 Tbsp clarified butter (20 1/2-inch thick slices)
Sesame-topped semolina bread
1 large garlic clove, peeled and halved crosswise
20 Lime-Pickled Anchovies
Flaky sea salt


Lime-Pickled Anchovies

Combine the water, lime juice, and salt in a straight- sided 1- quart container and stir until the salt dissolves. Add the garlic, jalapeño, and basil and stir briefly. Keep this brine in the fridge while you prepare the anchovies.

Set the anchovies on a bed of crushed ice to keep them cold as you work. Working with one anchovy at a time, use a sharp knife to cut just behind the gills to remove the head. Insert the tip of the knife into the opening and nudge out the reddish black blob (the guts).

Starting from the opening, slit open the belly, stopping just before the small fin about 1 inch from the tail. Use the sharp edge of the knife blade to gently scrape one side of the exposed rib cage to remove the red viscera, then slice off the thin band of flesh you’ve pulled from the belly to create a straight edge. Flip the fish and do the same to the other side of the rib cage. Put the anchovy back on the bed of ice and repeat with the remaining anchovies.

Fill a large mixing bowl with water and add a tray of ice cubes. One by one, hold the anchovies under the water, use your thumb to gently rub the skin in the direction of the head to dislodge the scales, and gently rub the open belly to remove any lingering viscera. When the water gets murky, drain it and replace with fresh water and more ice cubes. Remove the anchovies from the water, shake gently, and add them to the brine. Cover with plastic wrap pressed against the surface of the brine and refrigerate for 2 days.

One by one, remove the anchovies from the brine. Hold each anchovy with your thumb against the belly and your forefinger against the back and very gently pinch along the length of the fish just to help the backbone release from the flesh. Gently open the fish like a book, grab the backbone at the top, and lift it to remove it and the tail in one piece. Put the anchovy, flesh side down, in a small, flat airtight container in which all will fit snugly (approximately 4 by 4 by 1½ inches), stacking them in several layers. Pour in just enough of the grapeseed oil to cover.

If not serving immediately, store in the fridge for up to 1 week.

Tomato Toasts

The first toast we put on our menu is also the simplest— just bread toasted in butter, rubbed with garlic, and topped with tomato and pickled anchovy. Of course, it’s the details that make it amazing. We bake the bread, grate the best tomatoes we can find, and suspend the fresh anchovies in time with a bright brine, just hours after they come out of the water.

Grate the cut sides of the tomatoes on the large holes of a box grater set over a bowl, until all that’s left in your hand is the skin and core (discard them). Add the olive oil, kosher salt, and 6 turns pepper and stir well.

Warm 2 to 3 Tbsp of the butter in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the bread slices, working in batches to avoid crowding the pan and adding more butter as necessary, and cook, flipping once, until light golden on both sides, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to paper towels and immediately rub the cut sides of the garlic back and forth on one side of each slice.

Spoon a generous tablespoon of the tomato mixture over each toast. Lay the anchovies over the tomato, sprinkle with some sea salt, and add a turn or two of pepper. Serve right away.