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Missing anchovette toast? Try making your own fish paste

With Peck’s Anchovette and Redro fish paste discontinued, our food editor put a recipe to the test and shares the results

27 January 2022 - 08:25
Members of the public were distraught when they couldn't find bottles of Peck's Anchovette and Redro fish paste on the shelves this month.
Members of the public were distraught when they couldn't find bottles of Peck's Anchovette and Redro fish paste on the shelves this month.
Image: Wendy Knowler

I wish I could get inside the heads of food manufacturers who suddenly decide that much-loved brands, which are so much part of our everyday lives, should be discontinued. 

The manufacturers of Peck’s Anchovette and Redro fish paste decided in December to discontinue these two very popular lines because of dwindling consumer support, but I wonder who those customers are, considering the howls of derision from the public when it was discovered there was no product on the shelves in January. “Yes, what will life be without anchovette toast?” I lamented.

On discussing the calamity with a friend and great cook Andrew Unsworth, we decided we’d try to put a recipe together and see which of ours would be the closest.

The ingredients on a bottle of Peck’s Anchovette list pilchards or mackerel, anchovies (min 5%), water, salt, rice flour, starch, sugar, soy, colourant and ascorbic acid (vitamin C).

Andrew made up his recipe using a can of well-drained sild sardines to which he added half a can of well-drained pilchards (the plain ones in a brine which are often called middlecut — not the ones in tomato or chilli sauce) and blended the ingredients together until smooth. Then he added 1 tbsp tomato sauce, 2 tsp of lemon juice and freshly ground black pepper. He served it to guests with water biscuits.

The consensus was that there was  too much of the pilchards, not enough tomato sauce and it was lacking in salt. The most obvious was the colour — a very unpalatable-looking light brown compared with the pink of fish paste.

With those pointers, I made my version using half a can (165g) of Cape Point minced anchovies, which taste bland and more like pilchards than anchovy fillets. I placed them in a food processor with four salted anchovy fillets and a 120g can of drained sardines in olive oil. I blended the fish together to give a paste-like consistency then added 2 tbsp tomato sauce, 2 tsp fish sauce, 2 tsp sugar, 2 tsp soya sauce and a good sprinkling of pepper and blended again.

The verdict? The taste was fair but could have done with more of the salted anchovy. and again it’s the muddy brown colour that was not right.

Have you tried making your own fish paste? Please share your recipes and comments and send to food@sundaytimes.co.za


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