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Gavros Risotto (Baked Fresh Anchovies Risotto)

Gavros Risotto sto Fourno (Baked Fresh Anchovies Risotto) is a wonderful, quite unique risotto, because the risotto is cooked first and then fresh anchovies sandwich the risotto and it is then baked in the oven. The risotto absorbs the lovely flavour of the anchovies as it is baked and makes a delicious meal!

Gavros (Anchovy) Risotto

The structure of the dish is based on a Pontian recipe called “Hapsopilafo” which means fish pilaf.  The Pontians are Greeks who immigrated to the Black Sea Region (Euxine Sea – called Efxinos Pontos  in Greek) from Ancient Trapezounta, which was a city in Arcadia, Peloponnese.

Gavros, fresh anchovies

Gavros, fresh anchovies

Hapsi,  was a species of anchovy found in abundance in the Black Sea.  It was the most popular fish which was fished from November to early March.   The Pontians, apart from eating them fresh, they would also preserve (cure) them in salt.

Anchovy fillets gavros

It was a tradition for them to eat anchovies on Palm Sunday.

This is mentioned in their Carols that they would eat anchovies on Palm Sunday and the next Sunday (Easter Sunday) they would eat butter and cheese.

Our Pontian brothers migrated from ancient Trebizond in Arcadia, to Efxinos Pontos (Black Sea) thousands of years ago. When Epaminondas of Thebes founded Megalopolis and brought inhabitants from other Arcadian cities to inhabit it, the Trebizondians refused to settle there, and those who survived the anger of the other Arcadians, were forced to migrate on ships to Trebizond of Pontos, which had the same name as their city, which was founded by Miletus.

Gavros baked anchovies risotto

The site of the ancient city of Trebizond, in Arcadia, situated among the villages of Kyparissia (my late mother-in -law’s village) and Mavria.   The site is now being excavated and so far the ancient city wall has been revealed.

Sources Nooz.gr article about hapsi by Kostas Gasparinatos – President of the Greek Gastronomy Company, Wikipedia and PontosNews.

Fresh anchovies have nothing to do with the smelly canned ones.  In fact, here in Greece, they are very popular because besides being dirt cheap and besides being very healthy, as they are packed with Omega 3 fatty acids as well as many more other health properties, they are also very delicious!  If you ever come to Greece, you will find them in most restaurants, mainly fried or marinated and I urge you to give them a try.

For my Orthodox readers, this Sunday is Palm Sunday, when it is traditional to eat fish.  If you are fasting, just skip the feta.


Gavros Risotto (Baked Fresh Anchovies Risotto)
Gavros Risotto (Baked Fresh Anchovies Risotto)
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  • 1 kilo fresh anchovies
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 135 grams (5 medium) button mushrooms, cut into slices
  • 200 grams (1 cup) Carolina or other rice, similar to arborio
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • Freshly grated pepper
  • 1/2 tbsp oregano
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  • 1 cup white dry wine
  • 1 ripe tomato, peeled and cubed
  • 1 organic vegetable
  • 2 cups water (or two cups broth of your choice)
  • 80 grams feta
  • Extra salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
1 hour, 30 minutes
15 minutes
  1. Choose fresh anchovies which should be at least around 12 cm long.
  2. Pull the head of the anchovies and most o the guts will be removed together with the head. Wash the fish.
  3. With a filleting knife cut alongside the belly and remove spine and tail, as well as any remaining guts. Wash again and strain.
  4. Meanwhile, heat the water and dissolve the bouillon.
  5. Heat the olive oil in a non-stick frying pan and sauté the onion until translucent. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, for a few seconds.
  6. Add the mushrooms and rosemary and sauté them for a few minutes.
  7. Add the rice and stir until coated with oil.
  8. Add wine, salt, pepper and oregano and cook for a few minutes, until the alcohol evaporates.
  9. Add the broth gradually until the liquid has been absorbed, stirring frequently.
  10. Add the cubed tomato and stir.
  11. Add the last broth and remove from the heat.
  12. Mix in the feta and stir for a few minutes until it melts.
  13. Remove from the heat before it absorbs all the liquid.
  14. Brush a 24 cm tart pan with olive oil. Line the anchovies in the tart pan, skin facing down, with half of the anchovies overhanging outside. Fill the bottom of the tart pan with the fillets.
  15. Pour the risotto on top of the anchovies.
  16. Bring the overhanging anchovies on top of the risotto. Cover with the remaining anchovies, skin facing up.
  17. Bake in a preheated fan forced oven to 170o C for fifteen minutes. Set aside for ten minutes, until all the juices are absorbed. Reverse the anchovies in a platter and serve, while still warm.


Kopiaste and Kali Orexi!

signature Ivy

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5 Responses

  1. wow I am really impressed, Ivy. This is one different and scrumptious risotto dish. Those fresh anchovies are to die for!

    • Ivy

      Thank you Angie.

  2. Ryan

    I must what a great recipe of making this delicious anchovies risotto. This food is just awesome and I wil try making this at home with all the ingridient and try to surprise all my family members by this food. Thanks for sharing this exciting recepie of Anchovies risotto

  3. Helen

    I am really This is one different and scrumptious risotto dish. Those fresh anchovies are to die for.

  4. Helen

    I am really This is one different and scrumptious Those fresh anchovies are to die for.