On my recent trek to Northern Europe I was tempted to make a detour to Turkiye, one of the world’s great countries, for a big plate of Hamsi (fresh anchovies) and Raki. But Turkiye is broken and it likely will not be repaired in my lifetime.
Spring is anchovy season in Europe. Fisheries are teeming with the tiny fish and chefs across the region hit their kitchens running wide open to celebrate this curious species.I did eight weeks of research before I got on the plane to Amsterdam and found a Turkish restaurant called Revan that boasted of having fresh hamsi on their menu.
But after a 45 minute walk to their door I found out I’d been lied to; Revan no longer serves the dish.
Left at loose ends, I wandered out into the street and found the nearest Turkish-looking man and inquired after hamsi. His face lit up. There was a tiny, seafood market cum grill just a few doors down and they have plenty, he exclaimed.
Walking into Vis Van Wou I’m immediately struck by the fresh sea breeze wafting off the display of seafood. It smells of ocean in here.These men are dedicated to sourcing and selling only the best, freshest fishes in Noord Holland.
A spotless display case is piled high with anchovies and they are absolutely gorgeous. They appear to have been harvested only moments ago.
Upon my order, the counterman, Abdel, fills his hands with the fish and heads to the tiny kitchen directly behind him where he begins his butchery. Perhaps 10 minutes pass and the big Moroccan brings a plate heaped with fried fishes to the table.They are perfectly prepared, dredged in a whisper of corn flour, cooked in hot, clean oil, and would do any Istanbul seafood restaurant proud. The only garnish is a hunk of lemon.
Tariff was under €8.
My favorite seafood house in Amsterdam has long been Een Vis Twee Vis where chef Klaas puts on a nightly master class in fish cookery near the Ship Museum.
But Vis Van Wouw has had me dreaming of nothing but fried anchovies since my trip to Amsterdam. I have no idea what their secret is, what sort of dark arts they conjure in that tiny kitchen but it is powerful stuff and I urge you to get there if you ever visit Noord Holland.
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Vis Van Wou
Van Woustraat 200-D,