Sweetness is sacred in lešada, sweetness is the Law. Cooked potatoes are sweet, and braised onions and garlic are sweetish, as are the steamcooked anchovies. Therefore, the main seasoning in lešada is the tender and, of course, sweet Dalmatian olive oil.
14 oz (400 g) fresh anchovies 18 oz (0.5 kg) potatoes 2 onions 4 cloves garlic 0.5 cup (1 dl) olive oil 1 cup (2 dl) cold water bunch of fresh parsley salt and freshly crushed black pepper to taste = serves 4 fine people
Cleaning the anchovies
Nip the heads off the anchovies using your fingers and remove them along with the entrails. Rinse the fish under cold running water.
Filleting the anchovies
Using your fingernail, cut the meat of each anchovy from the abdominal cavity all the way to the tail. Open up the fish with your fingers and bend the body so that the backbone separates from the meat. Then grab the backbone about a centimetre (half an inch) away from the torn-off head and pull it out along with the tail. Gently pat the fillets dry with a cloth.
Preparing the vegetables
Peel the onions and cut them into thin slices. Peel the potatoes and cut them into thin slices, about 3 mm thick. Peel the garlic cloves and cut them crosswise into thin slices, then finely chop the fresh parsley.
Pour half of the olive oil into a large, deep pan and coat the entire surface. Add half of the potatoes, enough to cover the bottom of the pan, sprinkle them with onions, and put the anchovy fillets on top.
Lightly season the ingredients with salt and pepper.
Repeat the process – this time also adding the chopped parsley and garlic. Season with salt and pepper, then add enough cold water to cover all but the last layer of fish, which should be left uncovered.
Cover the pan with a lid and bring to a boil over medium heat (about 3 minutes), then reduce the heat and braise for 10 minutes or until the potatoes become soft.
Remove from the heat and pour the second half of the olive oil over the dish. Replace the lid and leave the dish away from the heat for 10 minutes, letting it rest while the flavours blend and develop further.
Serve as a main dish, and prepare a green or mixed salad to go with it.
This dish goes well with a fruity, young, mildly-acidic wine, such as the sweetish Plavac Mali or the sun-kissed Malvasia.