If you want to run an anchovy factory you’re going to need a Maestro Salador. The rough translation is "Salt Conductor," but I think it lacks the nuance of Spanish. Maestro Salador is the Headmaster of Fish. He guides anchovies through the rooms in the plant. He watches over the barrels they age in. He changes the temperatures, adjusts the pressing weights, monitors the salt content. He’s essentially running a finishing school for fish, taking a lowly baitfish and grooming it to become one of the Mediterranean’s real delicacies.
Ortiz’s Maestro Salador cures anchovies that are fished in April with traditional purse seine nets. It's an old style of fishing that skims silver-skinned anchovies from the surface. This classic mode of fishing has two effects. It keeps the sea healthier by keeping unneeded fish out of the catch. And it bruises them less because hauls are lighter than with drop nets.
Once caught, the anchovies are cleaned, salted, stored for about six months—shorter than usual, the maestro wants these to remain plump—then filleted and packed in olive oil to order, all by hand. It’s been done pretty much the same way for over a hundred years, each silver and pink fillet a sign that the fish was put in salt the same day it was caught.
There are anchovies and anchovy paste you buy as an ingredient. There are anchovies you buy to chop up and mix into a dish. Then there are these anchovies, the crème de la crème of ready-to-eat anchovies, the ones you want to enjoy on their own, whole. Toast, pasta, pizza, sandwiches, or salads, you name it, these are great on top of it. Lay them out on fresh mozzarella and roasted peppers or alongside some quick-grilled mushrooms.
"Don’t even think of these as fish: They’re little bombs of umami"
Chris Cohen, Saveur