Recipe: Gentlemen’s Relish

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Gentlemen’s Relish

Anchovy lovers will love this very old English recipe for a famous savory spread (anchovy butter, actually) invented in 1828 by John Osborn. The commercially available version of this highly seasoned spread is know as  Patum Peperium. It’s a descendant of the ancient Roman condiment, garum, mentioned in what is believed to be the first written cookbook “Cookery and Dining in Imperial Rome” by Marcus Gavius Apicius, a Roman gourmet and lover of luxury, who lived sometime in the 1st century AD, during the reign of Tiberius.

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While the exact recipe of the commercial version of Gentlemen’s Relish is a guarded secret this recipe comes very close. To use it, spread a very thin layer on a slice of very good warm toasted bread as an appetizer. It’s an amazing addition to a pat of butter for frying eggs or added to any deviled egg recipe. There are several old English recipes that add a small amount to stews or as a spread for cucumber sandwiches and baked potatoes. 

The finished recipe can be stored, closely covered in the refrigerator for at least 2 weeks.

3 (50 g) cans anchovy fillets

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

¼ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

1 pinch ground cinnamon

1 pinch ground nutmeg

1 pinch ground ginger

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Combine all ingredients in a small food processor or mortar and pestle until smooth. Transfer to a ceramic or glass bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate till ready to use. Will keep for at least 2 weeks if kept tightly covered.

 

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    • Geoff
    • January 7th, 2014

    I was for many years addicted to the genuine article, in spite of the high cost, until I was diagnosed celiac, and had to abandon it due to the rusk content (wheat). I note that your recipe contains no such starchy filler, and I wonder how this might contribute to the unique texture and flavor? Also, for the benefit of UK readers, could you please translate cups/sticks of butter into grams/oz?

    • risaeats
    • May 30th, 2010

    This looks very interesting. What a great combination of flavors. Never heard of this before.

  1. I’m not that big into anchovies but this sounds and looks really damned good! I think I’ll have to give it a try cause I love the spices used!
    Justin from Bitchin’ Lifestyle

    • kristy
    • November 4th, 2009

    Though I’ve never taken this before, it looks so yummy!

  2. My hubby is the biggest anchovy hound ever & will love this! I’ve never even heard of it, but to me, it sounds divine…

  3. Nice recipe. Might also be tasty to spread a little on a lamb chop before grilling. Anchovy and lamb a classic (if weird sounding) combination or even smear a little onto bread before topping with grated cheese and grill till bubbling : )

  4. This sounds surprisingly tempting to me! Thanks for sharing something so original.

  5. This sounds like my kind of relish… love the anchoviesss

  6. I don’t know if this is close to garum or to gentleman’s relish, but it has to be delicious, providing you use good quality anchovies!

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