Let’s talk anchovies. These fish fillets may be small but they pack a serious punch. Sadly, these poor little guys have gotten a bad rep and I blame it on the picky eaters. Most people who don’t like anchovies say it’s due to the “fishy taste.” For all of you who agree, I am here to change your mind.

Instead of being fishy, anchovies actually have a strong Umami taste. This is a Japanese word that represents one of the five tastes that our taste buds can detect. This uncommon taste is extremely hard to describe but here’s my attempt. Umami’s flavor far exceeds the salty, sweet, sour and bitter tastes on the scale of deliciousness. Among the Umami group are foods like beef, mushrooms, Parmesan cheese and of course anchovies.

Anchovies create a savory and slightly salty depth of flavor that can’t be achieved with any other ingredient. I call them the “bacon of the sea” because, like the smoked pork product, anchovies make everything better. When they are in contact with heat, anchovy fillets melt away leaving behind their unique flavor as a powerful ingredient. It’s no wonder the best chefs use them as their secret weapon ingredient.

For those of you who think you don’t like anchovies: I hate to break it to you but you’re living a lie. This ingredient is secretly used to make some of our favorite dishes. Anchovies make up the salty base of Caesar salad dressing and puttanesca pasta sauce. So stop denying your taste buds of such deliciousness and try one of these recipes. I guarantee you’ll fall in love with the anchovy.