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Swapping Anchovy Paste for Fillets

By Cook's Illustrated Published May 2016

If you don't have minced anchovy fillets on hand, can you save time and avoid fuss by simply substituting anchovy paste from a tube?

Our recipes often call for minced anchovy fillets to add savory depth to dishes, but can you save time and avoid fuss by simply substituting anchovy paste from a tube? And, if so, would it be an equal-volume swap?

After determining that one fillet averages 1/2 teaspoon minced by volume, we ran some tests. In recipes like beef stew, where a modest amount of anchovy is intended to subtly bolster the meaty flavor, 1 teaspoon of anchovy paste made an acceptable substitute for 1 teaspoon of minced anchovy fillets. But in Caesar salad, where anchovies are used in greater concentration and contribute one of the defining flavors, tasters much preferred the fresher and more complex flavor of the salad prepared with actual fillets. They found the dressing made with anchovy paste overpoweringly salty and fishy. So go ahead and substitute anchovy paste for small amounts of minced ­fillets—but do so only in recipes in which they play a supporting role.