Anchovy pasta

Are you a risk taker? With food, I have not been all that adventurous. In primary school, I ate the same foods every day at the canteen. Monday: porridge, Tuesday: Curry chicken noodle, Wednesday: Kway teow with shredded chicken, Thursday: Laksa and Friday was free and easy.

Well, the dish I’m writing about today is something I doubt I’d order when dining out. I dislike sardines, hardly eat ikan bilis though I love nasi lemak, and group anchovies in the same family of tiny & cured fish that I do not enjoy eating. That includes herring, which I tried for the first time in Norway.

Norwegian starters

Starters at Engebret cafe, Norway's oldest cafe.
Starters at Engebret cafe, Norway’s oldest cafe.

Of all the items shared between us, I did not enjoy the herring much. In my mind, anchovies might probably taste like that – salty and disagreeable with my tastebuds.

So why would I make anchovy pasta? Perhaps I was sold on the bottle or the fact that I thought anchovy pasta would make a low cost meal. In any case, I picked up this bottle of anchovies at QB Warehouse for S$2.90.

Bottled anchovies
What a nice bottle :p
la Corvinia Anchovies in sunflower oil
Anchovies in sunflower oil

In a moment of bravery, I pinched off and ate a small piece of anchovy and it actually tasted alright – not too salty. No photo because my hands were oily from picking at the fillets and chopping them into small pieces.

Montabes Virgin Olive Oil
Montabes Virgin Olive Oil

Lovely olive oil from Ger, which she got on her trip to Barcelona. Perhaps it’s the reason why the pasta tasted good. Haha!

Mountain of chopped onions
Mountain of chopped onions

This photo above is the reason I wish I had a food processor. There’s actually more but piling it on top would probably have caused a landslide of onions. And more tears, if I had to chop them again.

Stir-frying the onions
Stir-frying the onions

What you’re trying to aim for here is an onion mush. Your pasta should be al dente (firm to the bite) but with the sauce, the aim is to eliminate having identifiable onion bits. For someone who picks onions out of her food, that is a lot of onions! So when it’s cooked to an unrecognisable state, where it’s sweet and tastes great, you know you’re on the right track.

Anchovy pasta
Voila! Anchovy pasta

It doesn’t look great but it was tasty! If only there was a Scratch N Sniff function on WordPress.  This is the first recipe I’m trying from cooking goddess Nigella Lawson. Thanks for the recipe!


  • 2 large onions
  • 2 cloves garlic (I put in 6! Because garlic)
  • 5 tbsp olive oil
  • 0.5 tsp brown sugar
  • 12 anchovies (or a 60g can in oil)
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • Some black pepper (maybe two turns of the grinder)
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 125ml milk
  • 300g linguine (You can go up to 500g but I like more sauce with my pasta)
  • 1 bunch of freshly chopped flatleaf parsley (I didn’t have this but it would definitely improve the look of the pasta)

Cook it!

  1. Finely chop onions and garlic.
  2. Heat oil in a pan and cook the onions & garlic over a low heat till you have a soft, golden mush. (About 10 min. I think I turned my heat on too low cos it took me 30 minutes.)
  3. Add in brown sugar, stir it and let the onion mixture cook for another minute or so.
  4. Remove the anchovies from the tin and chop them finely. Add to the onion mush and stir till they melt. Stir in butter, a sprinkle of black pepper, followed by the water.
  5. When it is all combined, gradually stir in the milk. When this has come together as a puree, take the pan off the heat.
  6. Cook pasta. Store a ladle full of pasta water.
  7. Pour cooked pasta into the sauce. You may add some of the pasta water and oil from the anchovy bottle to help lubricate the pasta.
  8. Sprinkle roughly chopped parsley and toss pasta to coat evenly.


  • Pasta $2.5
  • 2 onions $2
  • Garlic $0.6
  • Anchovies $2.9

I shall have to check out how much the anchovies cost at the supermarket to determine if this is an economical meal after all. :p

My short insta-story 🙂 Follow me @thejialatcook on Instagram where I post food pics.



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