Cetara and the anchovies
Cetara is a small village nested in the Costiera Amalfitana and famous for fishing and production of tuna and anchovies. Moreover that village is the patria of Colatura of anchovies.
What is Colatura
Colatura (dripping) comes from anchovies catched in Salerno Gulf, between Amalfi and Capri. Anchovies are fished with a specific boat called "cianciola". The period of fishing goes from the end of March and the beginning of July, that is the moment of the year to get the biggest and fattiest anchovies. Once captured the anchovies are beheaded and eviscerated, salted and matured for a minimum of 12 months in chestnut wood barrels (called "terzigni"). Now we go to the meaning of the name Colatura (dripping): the liquid drips from the barrels through a hole done with a small iron. 20 kgs of fresh anchovies produce 3 liters of Colatura and the longest the period of maturation the better the result. You could have either a transparent liquid (short maturation) or brown (long maturation) and the flavour is obviously a consequence. Insisde the barrels remain only the bones once the liquid is drop.
Cooking with Colatura
The taste of Colatura is savoury, but well balanced, very intense notes of sea, ground and balsamic for some reasons. Aftertaste is long and savoury, it goes straight to the fifth flavour: umami. Colatura represents for chefs a fabolous ingredients, very versatile and full of implications in different recepies, from fish to pasta, from vegetables to legumes.
The most famous dish is Spaghetti with Colatura, you need just few minutes to mix spaghetti with a spoon of colatura in olive oil, garlic, chili and cooking water. Anyway you can flavour potatoes, boiled vegetables or simply bread. Colatura is also used to marinate meat, fish or to give a special touch to Burrata.
A bit of history
The Origins of Colatura go back to Romans that used to produce a very similar sauce called Garum.The liquid was the result of the maturation of fish scraps and offals covered by salt, altough at that time that was one of the main dressing in the Mediterranean countries, infact the use of olive oil was not so common especially between the poor people. Few groups of monks situated in Amalfi coast then rediscovered the recipe in the Middle Age, they used to preserve in salt the anchovies caught in summer using as container wooden barrels. And that is the recipe arrived to Acquapazza Gourmet, the producer of Colatura that we selected.
Acquapazza Gourmet is a small artisan company based in the historical center of Cetara. The owners and foundators are Gennaro Marciante (chef) and Gennaro Castiello (maitre and sommelier). We said chef and maitre because first of all Acquapazza is a beautiful restaurant in Cetara. The “Gennaros” created the company with other three partners with the same passion about the sea, the fish and ancient traditions ; the common objective has been since the beginning the re-production of the real and ancient recipe of Colatura
Anchovies in salt
Since a couple of years, Acquapazza Gourmet is producing also the Anchovies in Salt, with a process similar to the one of Colatura but with a shorter maturation: anchovies are selected, behaeded and cleaned, then salted and allocated into the terzigni closed with a lid (tompagno) pressed by a stone. After 6 months anchovies are ready to be consumed. Gennaro suggests to wash the anchovies from salt in current water. Second operation is the removal of bones and tail; once the meat is dried you can merge the fillets in extra virgin olive oil for a minimum of 2 hours and dress eventually with garlic, parsley, tyme or chili.