The goodness of this preparation depends almost entirely on having fine mellow fish, that have been in pickle long enough (i. e. about twelve months) to dissolve easily, yet are not at all rusty.
Choose those that are in the state they come over in, not such as have been put into fresh pickle, mixed with red paint, which some add to improve the complexion of the fish; it has been said, that others have a trick of putting anchovy liquor on pickled sprats; you will easily discover this by washing one of them, and tasting the flesh of it, which in the fine anchovy is mellow, red, and high-flavored, and the bone moist and oily. Make only as much as will soon be used, the fresher it is the better.
Put ten or twelve anchovies into a mortar, and pound them to a pulp; put this into a very clean iron, or silver, or very well tinned saucepan; then put a large table-spoonful of cold spring-water (we prefer good vinegar) into the mortar; shake it round, and pour it to the pounded anchovies, Rabbit set them by the side of a slow fire, very frequently stirring them together till they are melted, which they will be in the course of five minutes. Now stir in a quarter of a drachm of good cayenne pepper, and let it remain by the side of the fire for a few minutes longer; then, while it is warm, rub it through a hair sieve, with the back of a wooden spoon.
The essence of anchovy, is made with double the above quantity of water, as they are of opinion that it ought to be so thin as not to hang about the sides of the bottle; when it does, the large surface of it is soon acted upon by the air, and becomes rancid and spoils all the rest of it.
A roll of thin-cut lemon-peel infused with the anchovy, imparts a fine, fresh, delicate, aromatic flavor, which is very grateful; this is only recommended when you make sauce for immediate use; it will keep much better without: if you wish to acidulate it, instead of water make it with artificial lemon-juice.