Anchovy butter

You’ve grilled the perfect steak. How could you make it even better? Nothing, if you are a purist. Quite a lot, if you’re ready to venture into the unknown. To do this, you’ll need butter. Anchovies. Maybe even a can of smoked oysters…

To make anchovy butter plus a couple of variants, you will need:

  • 150g butter
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 9 anchovy fillets
  • 5ml lemon juice
  • A dash of Red Tobasco
  • 1 can of smoked mussels or oysters
  • 2 large-stemmed capers or 6 little capers

Well, what can I say? Thanks entirely to the recent and not entirely believable removal of the curse on butter by the medical profession, butter is back! As a powerful contributor to the enhancement of flavour it is more than welcome.
Steaks have been well-documented in this column, and there is an extraordinary wealth of knowledge and enterprise when it comes to grilled meat in this great country of ours.

If it’s a traditional braai near the tryline of your favourite rugger stadium or in one of the thousands of sizzling shisa nyama roadside braziers fragrant with that heavenly and unmistakable aroma of braai, meat and heat hold few secrets for any of us.

But maybe the time has come in your personal gustatory journey for steaks to obtain some GT stripes, run on straight nitrous oxide, and overtake everything else on the road, including the odd Ferrari. For this to happen, you are going to need anchovy butter.

Make it like this: coarsely dice the butter, then leave it to soften naturally in a bowl while you carry on. Remove the anchovy fillets from the bottle they came in, and lay them on kitchen paper to get rid of some of the oil. Arrange the anchovies on a chopping board and cut then into small pieces. Crush, peel and finely chop the cloves of garlic.

Freshly squeeze some juice of a lemon and add 5ml to 10ml to the now-softened butter in the mixing bowl. Add chopped garlic and a generous but optional dash of Red Tabasco and mix it all together with a fork. Alternatively, in place of the anchovies, drain a can of smoked oysters or mussels, chop them into small pieces and add them to the same mixture. Or for a third variation, add some chopped capers to either mixture. On completion, chill the mixture to firm it a bit.

Cook the meat the way you like it. Remove it from the heat and let it stand for five minutes. Just before serving, place one or two, or if it’s a 700g T-bone, three heaped teaspoons of the anchovy butter on top of the meat and let it melt on its way to the table. This – I promise you – is one of the all-time great tastes in the history of cooking.