The Umami-Packed Ingredient That Takes Egg Salad To New Heights

egg salad sandwich
egg salad sandwich - Lauripatterson/Getty Images

Egg salad is one of those foods where you might not think about it that much, but you're likely never sad to see it show up. It's not particularly expensive to make, it usually has a mild flavor that doesn't attract a lot of haters, and the dish is even good for avoiding food waste, as the easiest egg salad involves week-old eggs. And you know what's a fantastic ingredient you're probably not currently using that really dials up an egg salad? White anchovies.

No, wait, come back! Look, anchovies sometimes have a bad reputation among a lot of people, and it's easy to see why -- the version a lot of folks try first does not exactly come from the zenith of Mt. Anchovy. But their potent umami qualities have been highly prized in societies as diverse as Greece, Rome, and China for millennia, and if you get the right kind, those same qualities make them a perfect addition to egg salad. You just have to make sure you're using white anchovies rather than brown ones.

Read more: 12 Underrated Types Of Fish You Should Try At Least Once

White Anchovies Are The Move Here, Not Brown Ones

plate of white anchovies
plate of white anchovies - Shootdiem/Getty Images

It's important here to make a distinction between white anchovies and brown anchovies. The type a lot of people are likely familiar with are brown anchovies (sometimes referred to as tinned anchovies), which come in a tin and are heavily cured in a salt solution to preserve them over long periods of time. Not only does this process make them absolutely nuclear salty, it also draws out some of their moisture. Brown anchovies do have their uses (they're great ground up as a component in sauces, for example), and you probably could use brown anchovies in egg salad, but it's going to be a whole lot harder to keep their potent, concentrated salt flavor from overwhelming everything else.

Not so with white anchovies (also called anchovy fillets), which are far more fresh than brown ones (hence why they have to be refrigerated). It's easy to spot the differences between the two, as white anchovies are white on one side and silver on the other. And unlike brown anchovies, white anchovies are cured in vinegar and only lightly salted, giving them more of an acidic flavor profile than a salty one. This is important for egg salad, as classic egg salad will often involve either vinegar or mustard (which itself contains vinegar). As such, you get a lot of what you already want in an egg salad, but with a savory umami punch.

White Anchovies Are Actually Very Versatile

caesar salad with white anchovies
caesar salad with white anchovies - RFondren Photography/Shutterstock

Egg salad is a fantastic place for white anchovies, but there are actually all sorts of great ways to use them. The most traditional might be simply to serve them on crostini where they can be the star, possibly with something lemon-based to add some brightness. They're fantastic as a protein in pasta dishes, where, like egg salad, they bring an anchovy's savory qualities without an overpowering level of salt. They're wonderful in salads, particularly Caesar salads, where they're a classic accompaniment. Unsurprisingly, they're also a great pizza topping.

In general, white anchovies play well with other flavors, which is why there are so many ways you can combine them with other things. As eggs are themselves a great ingredient to combine with other foods (this the entire principle behind omelettes and egg scrambles), this makes egg salad and anchovies a match made in heaven.

Read the original article on The Daily Meal.