3 x 40g slices white crusty bread, cut 1cm thick
1 tablespoon olive oil
6 medium free-range eggs
3 little gem lettuce
50g (approx. 12) large anchovy fillets in olive oil, drained and cut on the diagonal into 2.5cm pieces
For the dressing
1 small garlic clove, crushed
1 large free-range egg yolk
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoon lemon juice
Half a teaspoon caster sugar
150ml extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
In February, I went to a tinned anchovy producer in the Cantabrian port of Laredo. I was told they were one of the best producers of anchovies in Spain, and that actually means in the world, because even the Italians grudgingly admit that the anchovies from the Cantabrian Sea, salted, hand-filleted and preserved in Spanish olive oil, are the best. However, during my first visit they said they were processing anchovies from Argentina because the local fishery had been closed for four years, but they were confident that later that spring the local ones would be coming in on the boats again. And so it proved to be, and lots of them. It only goes to show that with a bit of care and stock management, four years can change everything in a fishery. These tinned anchovies have what I can only describe as a sweetness that I've never tasted before, and quite rightly the locals rank them up there with truffles and caviar.
For the croutons, preheat the oven to 180C/gas 4. Cut the crusts off the bread and tear the remainder into small pieces. Toss them in a bowl with the olive oil. Spread them on a baking tray and bake for 5–7 minutes or until crisp and golden. Leave to cool, then season lightly with salt. Meanwhile, put the eggs into a pan of boiling water and boil for 8 minutes. Drain and cover with cold water.
For the dressing, put the garlic, egg yolk, mustard, lemon juice, sugar and some seasoning into a small bowl. Mix together briefly with a hand-held electric whisk, then slowly whisk in the oil to make a smooth dressing. Discard the outside leaves of the lettuce if necessary and tear the rest into small pieces. Wash and dry well, then spread over the base of 6 medium serving plates. Peel the hard-boiled eggs and cut them into quarters. Arrange 4 pieces over each plate of lettuce leaves with the 4 strips of anchovy fillet and a few croutons. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of dressing over each plate and serve straight away.
Taken from 'Rick Stein's Spain' (BBC Books, £25).Reuse content