November 2011

Chef’s Table Michael Cimarusti


Retail fishmonger options rarely meet the restaurant standards of L.A.’s seafood pundit. “But you can always get quality meat from a butcher,” says Cimarusti, “so I’ll often just grill steak and hit the farmers’ market for vegetables.” An exception is fresh anchovies, which, time permitting, he uses in this fabulous starter with fennel and coriander-marinated artichokes. Note: When short on time, Cimarusti substitutes store-bought marinated whole white anchovies (at Surfas in Culver City and Nicole’s in South Pasadena).

½ cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic, sliced in thirds
1 tsp coriander seeds
½ tsp fennel seeds
Bouquet garni (3 sprigs thyme, 3 parsley stems, 3 basil stems)
1 small sweet onion, sliced in eight wedges
2 small carrots, thinly sliced
4 large artichokes, choke removed and sliced into 6 pieces
Coarse sea salt, to taste
Black pepper
2 cups white wine
White vinegar
20 basil leaves, torn
8 small sweet tomatoes, such as Campari, halved
1 pound homemade marinated anchovies or 1 pound store-bought whole marinated white anchovies

Heat large nonreactive saucepan over medium-high. Add ¼ cup olive oil, then garlic, coriander, fennel and bouquet garni. When spices sizzle, add onion, carrots and artichokes. Toss with oil and season with pinch of salt. Cook 2 minutes over high, add wine, cover and continue to cook 5 minutes. Remove lid and add remaining olive oil (should appear slightly thickened). Taste, adding salt, pepper and vinegar as needed. Allow artichokes to cool to room temperature in pan, then transfer to serving platter and add basil and tomatoes. Arrange anchovies on top and finish with sprinkle of salt and drizzle of olive oil.

Homemade Marinated Anchovies

1 pound whole fresh anchovies
1 cup dry white wine
½ cup white wine vinegar
1 cup olive oil
1 bulb thinly sliced fennel, fronds reserved
1 small sweet onion
1 small carrot, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 tsp Italian chile flakes
20 parsley leaves
20 cilantro leaves

Remove anchovy heads and press flesh away to remove backbones. Discard heads and bones. Combine wine, vinegar and oil in bowl. In another bowl, add remaining ingredients. Scatter mixed vegetables on sheet pan with 1-inch rim and place anchovies in single layer on top. Sprinkle with salt and pour on oil mixture. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Accompany with sliced, grilled rustic bread. Serves 6 to 8.

PHOTO: Brian Leatart
FOOD STYLIST: Leisel Maggiore