Tag: Garum

Condiments | Anchovy Sauce

The most famous anchovy sauce – Garum of the imperial Roman era and its modern variations Colatura di Alici and the Indo-Chinese sauces of Thailand and Vietnam – is an extract more than a sauce, whereas the Pissala / Pissalat of Nice is a contender for a genuine sauce, largely because it can be made in the home, unlike the filtered varieties.

The Italian caper and anchovy sauce – Salsa di Capperi e Acciughe – should qualify even if it is low on anchovies. The dressing known as Bagna Cauda in Italy and La Fondue Niçoise in France is too elaborate although it is high on anchovies. Not so the Anchoiade, a subtle blend of anchovy and oil!

Pissala / Pissalat

Used to season any number of traditional dishes in the Nice region, this anchovy sauce is associated with the flan and flatbread called pissaladiére.

  • 240 ml olive oil
  • 48 anchovy fillets
  • 10 g black pepper
  • 12 cloves, ground
  • 5 g salt
  • 12 sprigs of thyme
  • 8 bay leaves, ground

Mash the anchovies with a fork, place in a bowl with 45 millilitres of olive oil, a large pinch each of black pepper and salt plus the bay leaves, cloves and thyme. Beat into a sauce. Pour into a glass jar, store in the refrigerator.

Bagna Cauda / La Fondue Nicoise

Along from the Ligurian and Piedmont coast, in the azzure of the French Riviera, they call this dressing la fondue Niçoise, a little cheeky because the traditional ingredient is the salted anchovy of the Ligurian Sea! However, both the French and Italian versions are worth a try.

Whichever version this is a sauce used to dress sticks of celery and carrots, slices of artichokes, bulb fennel and fresh mushrooms, or pieces of any vegetable that demands a flavour shock!

The Italians suggest artichokes, cardons, carrots, endive, peppers and rape. Raw vegetables are preferred over cooked, albeit al dente, vegetables, except for new whole potatoes fully cooked.

The butter and milk can be omitted.

  • 300 ml olive oil
  • 150 g anchovy fillets / salted Ligurian Sea anchovy fillets
  • 90 ml milk (optional)
  • 60 g butter (optional)
  • 6 garlic cloves, sliced thin
  • Choice of vegetables, lightly cooked or raw
  • Bread, for collecting the drips

Milk Method

Soak garlic in the milk for about two hours, strain milk and dry garlic. Using a small pot, over a low heat, gently fry the garlic in the butter. Add the oil and the anchovies. Simmer for 10 minutes until the anchovies have melted into the butter-oil-garlic mixure, and it has the consistency of sauce.

Dip choice of vegetable into the sauce, holding a piece of bread under the stick, slice or piece to collect the drips.

Oil Method

Using a small pot, over a very low heat cook the garlic in the olive oil, about half an hour. Add the anchovies and allow to melt gradually. Whisk a little and keep warm.

Dip choice of vegetable into the sauce, holding a piece of bread under the stick, slice or piece to collect the drips.

La Fondue Nicoise

  • 125 ml olive oil
  • 8 anchovy fillets
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced

Cook the garlic gently in the oil over low heat until it begins to soften, add the anchovies and let them slowly bind the sauce.



  • 100 g anchovies in oil
  • 60 ml olive oil
  • 15 ml red wine vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced thin
  • Black pepper, large pinch
  • Salt, large pinch

Sauté anchovies over a low heat, add garlic, seasonings and vinegar. Cook until the mixture takes on a smooth consistency. Stir in the olive oil.


  • 1 cauliflower, florettes separated, sliced thin
  • 1 broccoli head, florettes separated, sliced thin
  • 4 small carrots, peeled, cut into thin strips
  • 2 celery stalks, sliced thin
  • 4 artichokes, sliced thin
  • 4 endive, sliced thin
  • 4 eggs, hard-boiled
  • 8 radishes, sliced thin

Place the vegetables in a large bowl, mix, pour anchovy mixture, serve with an egg for each diner.

Legendary Dishes | Spaghetti con Colatura di Alici (long pasta with fish sauce)

Monks living in the monasteries overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea preserved the ancient tradition of salting small fish, collecting the fermenting liquid for use as a tangy sauce.

Over the years the demand for this liquid prompted the reintroduction of an industry that had flourished under the Romans – the production of garum.

In Cetara on the Amalfitan Coast, Gargilius Martialis’ 3rd century recipe has been refined by families who now specialise in the production of colatura di alici – filtered anchovies.

You must use fish such as salmons, eels, sardines and anchovies; then to these fish you must add salt and potherbs such as dill, mint, coriander, lovage, wild thyme. Then you must dispose the herbs in a first layer on the bottom of a pot. Then you must make a layer of whole fish, if small, otherwise, if they are bigger, in pieces. You must cover it with a layer of salt of about two fingers and the three layer operation must be repeated until the pot is full. The pot must be closed and it must soak for seven days. You must stir everything for other twenty days. Then the strained liquid must be collected filtering it carefully using a cloth.

Archeologists Alfredo Carannante, Claudio Giardino and Umberto Savarese believe the Amalfi monks ‘were one of the medieval monastic communities which preserved the knowledge about the preparation of garum and the tradition of its use’.

Colatura di alici first appeared in the 12th century when the monks kept a fleet of boats to supply their own needs. This has resulted, say the archeologists, in ‘a patrimony for the popular culture and the community in Cetara’.

‘Modern colatura di alici is a true living fossil of one of the most important gastronomic products of the ancient Mediterranean area.’

It tastes nice too, especially with spaghetti.


This Roman delicacy, most probably the result of Phoenician ingenuity, was a fermented product, not unlike modern miso and soy sauce.

According to food historian Patrick Faas, the Romans were very fond of garum because it contained a high level of glutamate – an amino acid present in fermented food.

Garum was made with whole fish, salted and slowly fermented in the sun. When the fish had broken down, the mass was put in a basket or vat and pressed to produce a liquid called liquamen. This was garum.

The small anchovies and sardines caught in the Mediterranean produced a popular garum.

Garum made with the larger mackerel was regarded as an elite product.

Making garum today is unneccessary given the amount of fermented fish products on the market, including colatura di alici, but this is how it can be done if the mood takes you.

  • 1 kg mackerel, whole
  • 1 kg sea salt

Arrange mackerel on trays, salt and leave in sun, turning regularly.

When they have broken down, fill a sieve lined with muslin over a large bowl. Cover with greaseproof paper, and press down on the fish.

The liquid that emerges is garum.

Repeat until all the liquid has been drained from the fermenting fish.

Strain, then filter through muslin several times.

Store in bottles or jars.

Spaghetti con Colatura di Alici

All you need to good quality spaghetti. For this dish we recommend the gragnano variety.

  • 500 g gragnano spaghetti
  • 50 ml Colatura di Alici

Cook spaghetti al dente, dress with Colatura di Alici, cover and leave for five minutes to allow the pasta to absorb the fishy liquid.