When time is no object, I gleefully gut dried anchovies, separating twiggy bodices from bitter interiors to build a mountain of wizened corpses, all destined to be revived in a pot of boiling water. I add mu (Korean radish), kelp, onion, garlic, and shiitakes for a light stock heavy with purpose.
But when life happens and 7 p.m. hits, sometimes I need something faster. The only alternative to homemade seafood stock I trust are these shelf-stable tablets packed with the ingredients of a homemade anchovy stock. Without compromising on flavor, they save time and dishes—both actual dishes I’d have to wash and lackluster meals that would disappoint.
My go-to brand for anchovy stock tablets includes clam extract, lotus root, and burdock powder for layers of umami, so thankfully I’m not the menace dehydrating briny clams or busting into fibrous bulbs in a shared kitchen. It dissolves in three minutes, barely a song, transforming comforting dishes like Doenjang Jjigae and Tteokbokki.
Sure, trademark ingredients like doenjang and gochujang impart bright funkiness, but they’re incomplete without anchovy stock. When you’re running short on time, anchovy stock tablets come to the rescue. They work equally well in mellower meals, like the beige-hued abalone rice porridge I crave on gloomy days, or a seafood risotto for those slow, summer evenings. With anchovy tablets, I’m never at risk of cooking a bland meal. Phew.
Don’t limit them to Asian cuisines, though. They’re too well-rounded to not use in all sorts of recipes. When making shellfish pasta, let a tablet dissolve in the boiling water before adding your pasta to infuse it with more depth. I might even pop one into the Thanksgiving gravy boat for added salinity and savoriness.
However you use them, if you’re anything like me, you’ll want a jar in your pantry at all times.