Colatura di Alici

Tonight I made Spaghetti con la Colatura di Alici. Mainly because I was pressed for time to produce a dinner. It is fast, easy, and very delicious.

Colatura di Alici is translated as “anchovy drippings”. It is a sauce or condiment, made from anchovies. Don’t let that scare you away!! It is Umami to the max! Friends told me they stayed in the little town where it is made, Cetara, in Campana, a small fishing village on the Amalfi coast. The fish are harvested just off the coast. They are only harvested between March 25, the Feast of the Annunciation and July 22, the Feast of Mary Magdalene. This is typical of the traditions here where dates and moon phases still tell people when they can plant or harvest. The sauce is a transparent, amber colored liquid, produced by fermenting anchovies in brine. Here’s mine.

I did some research and found that something similar was produced in Ancient Rome. The recipe was recovered by monks in medieval times. They made Colatura di Alici in a primitive manner letting the brined fish drip through from wooden barrels. Now wool sheets are used to filter the brine.

My Spaghetti con la Colatura di Alici. It has just five ingredients in the sauce plus spaghetti, and lemon zest and parsley to serve. Comfort food, Italian style!

6 thoughts on “Colatura di Alici

  1. Nancy Hampton Post author

    Matt, great! I’d like to know how you like it. My recipe is simple. Toast panko or bread crumbs in olive oil. Set aside. Put 5 tablespoons of colatura in a big bowl. Mince a garlic clove and add to bowl. Add red pepper flakes to taste. Whisk ingredients to blend. Cook a pound of spaghetti. The best part is the vigorous stirring of the bread crumbs and the pasta into the sauce in the bowl and add some pasta water. You whip it until it emulsifies the sauce. Finish with parsley and lemon zest. Let me know how yours turns out.

  2. Nancy Hampton Post author

    Hi Ken, It doesn’t taste the same to me. It is milder, I think. Maybe it’s not fermented as long? Not sure.

  3. Mathhew Daub

    Hi Nancy. Now this is one I’ve never heard of! I looked up some recipes and a few varieties seem to be available here in the states, including the brand you use. I’m going to pick up a bottle – thanks!

  4. Nancy Hampton Post author

    Hi John! Good to hear from you. Yes you are spot on. It is the descendent of Garum. How did you know about that? Until I did some research I had not known the roots of Colatura di Alici. It is so simple and so good. Definitely get some while here

  5. John Bleazard

    Hi Nancy,
    Thanks for yet another nice posting with special foods that you are learning to prepare and enjoy. When I saw this one about Colatura di Alici, I immediate thought about Roman garum. I have always wondered, if it were so outrageously popular with the ancient Romans, why something like it had not survived. But, I never bothered to dig into the matter. Now this. I imagine it is not feasible to prepare that sauce outside of Italy, except where fresh anchovies are available. But, if and when I get back to Italy, and I am in Campana, I hope I can remember to get some of this stuff.

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