Growing up in Zimbabwe I ate little fish called ‘kapenta’ – basically a fesh water anchovy. My mum would marinate them in lemon juice, sea salt and turmeric and deep fry them till they were cripsy. So yum!
She served them alongside Sadza and Muriwo. Sadza is a Zimbabwean staple similar to polenta made from white cornmeal and Muriwo is a spinach stew made with loads of onions and tomatoes.
The crispy crunchiness of the salty fish mixed with the tender soft spinach leaves against a delicately cooked ‘sadza‘ was lip-smackingly good! It’s the kind of comfort food I cherished as a child and still do…. delicious!
My son loves, loves, loves these little fish just as much as I do and recently I was delighted to know my daughter shared our enthusiasm for these crunchy little creatures. Well, once she got passed the ‘Ew! I’m not eating that!’ stage. She realized how much fun we were having crunching away on these tiny morsels – heads tails and all – she had to give it a shot.
On a recent trip to the Asian market, I came across some wild caught anchovies. You can imagine my joy. I didn’t hesitate for a minute, I immediately tossed those babies into the cart. I knew without a question what I was making for dinner that night!
You will need
1 lb fresh anchovies, cleaned
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 quart grapeseed oil, for frying (you may use oil of choice)
malt vinegar (optional)
Gently combine the anchovies with 1 teaspoon salt and 2 tablespoon of lemon juice in a bowl.
Leave aside for about 10 minutes.
Rinse the anchovies with water a couple of times and then pat them dry.
Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, paprika and ground turmeric to the washed anchovies.
Mix and marinate for 15 minutes.
Heat the grapeseed oil until hot and deep fry the anchovies in small batches for about 3 – 4 minutes or until crispy.
Drain on paper towels.
Drizzle with malt vinegar (optional).
Serve immediately with a hot bowl of rice and dhaar.
A word of caution. Do be careful when frying the achovies. Every now and then they tend to pop and burst, splattering oil here and there.