Recipe: Gentlemen’s Relish


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.


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.


    • 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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