Cetara, a picturesque fishing town on the Amalfi coast is well-known for the ‘colatura’, an amber coloured extract, made from anchovies caught in the Gulf of Salerno, using a special salting process.
It seems that “colatura” is a descendant of ‘garum’, the ancient fish sauce used by the Romans to season their dishes.
The raw material consists of local anchovies, caught during the period from March 25th, The Annunciation Day & July 22nd St. Magdalene’s Day.
Once caught, the head & entrails are discarded & the anchovies are put in a container full of salt for 24 hours.
Soon after they are put in small chestnut or oak barrels, called ‘terzigno’, salted & covered with a wooden disk on which a weight is placed.
Due to pressing and aging of the fish, a liquid begins to appear on the surface; it is gathered in a glass bottle & exposed to sunlight so that it becomes more concentrated.
After four or five months, the liquid is poured once again in small barrels full of anchovies, in order to increase its flavour, & is dripped through a hole. It is finally filtered & it can be enjoyed in early December.
Colatura is a perfect sauce for a quick plate of spaghetti al dente. The reason for its popularity in Cetara is simple. Colatura allows you to have within minutes a full-fledged fish sauce that would have otherwise been an elaborate task.
Colatura Di Alici From Cetara 40ml
Extra Virgin Olive Oil 125ml
2 Garlic cloves, minced
Generous amount of fresh Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 Italian Peperoncino shredded, or crushed red chili pepper (optional)
Preparation time 30 minutes. Serves 4
Start heating a stockpot full of water over high heat in anticipation of cooking the pasta.
Keep in mind that on average 4-5 litres of cold water over a high flame can take up to 25-30 minutes to reach a full boil. DO NOT add salt to the boiling water. The Colatura Di Alici will provide the necessary salt for the spaghetti.
Chop the parsley coarsely. Mince the garlic cloves. Shred the Italian Peperoncino (hot chili pepper) if desired. Place all inside a large serving bowl, large enough to contain the pasta after it has cooked. Add four tablespoons of Colatura Di alici from Cetara, & the Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Mix & stir. Let the mixture sit & marinade while the water comes to a boil.
When the water boils throw in the spaghetti. Make sure to stir the spaghetti now & then while they cook to avoid any two pieces sticking together. When the spaghetti are perfectly “al dente,’’ drain them & transfer them to the serving bowl with the previously prepared mixture. Mix & stir thoroughly. Taste to gauge the saltiness. Add more Colatura Di Alici if necessary. Evenly distribute any remaining sauce at the bottom of the serving bowl on each of the servings (the sauce is too precious to go to waste). Serve at once. Grated cheese is never added to this sauce.