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Gavros Risotto (Baked Fresh Anchovies Risotto)

Gavros Risotto (Baked Fresh Anchovies Risotto)

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Gavros Risotto is a wonderful, quite unique risotto with fresh anchovies, because the risotto is cooked first and then fresh anchovies sandwich the risotto.

The risotto is then baked in the oven and absorbs the lovely flavour of the anchovies while it is baking and makes this delicious meal!

Fresh anchovies image

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.

fresh anchovies picture
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 image

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 image

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 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.

Anchovy Risotto image

Gavros Risotto (Baked Fresh Anchovies Risotto)

Yield: 6
Prep Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes

A risotto made with fresh anchovies inspired by the Greek Pontian dish called Hapsopilafo.


  • 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. Choose fresh anchovies which should be at least around 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.
Nutrition Information
Yield 6 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 485Total Fat 24gSaturated Fat 6gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 16gCholesterol 114mgSodium 1635mgCarbohydrates 20gFiber 2gSugar 4gProtein 40g

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Do you like risotto? Check out these recipes as well.

Collage baked anchovies risotto image

Kopiaste and Kali Orexi!

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Friday 17th of June 2016

I love anchovies and this is really very unique. I will definitely try it soon!


Friday 17th of June 2016

I am really excited to try this dish, This is one different and scrumptious risotto dish. Those fresh anchovies are to die for!!


Tuesday 19th of April 2016

I must say,what a great recipe of making this delicious anchovies risotto. This food is just awesome and I will try making this to surprise all my family. Thanks for sharing this exciting recipe!


Tuesday 19th of April 2016

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


Tuesday 19th of April 2016

Thank you Angie.

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