This is one of those foods for folks looking for something both old and new—and flavorful.
It’s an ancient convenience food that gets deep flavor without much work. I’d never heard of garum colatura until I visited the Italian coast south of Naples. There I discovered it’s the liquid that drips off the chestnut barrels of traditionally cured anchovies. Drop by drop this elixir is captured, bottled and saved. Made much the same way it was 2,000 years ago, it’s used as a quick way to give great anchovy flavor to a dish without having to fillet, soak and chop the fish.
Locals still use it regularly, mostly on pasta. The best meal of my Neapolitan trip was a bowl of pasta cooked al dente that had been tossed quickly with garum, some very good olive oil, chopped garlic and a touch of dried red pepper. Our accountant, Jim, likes to mix it with olive oil in a 3:1 ratio of oil:garum. He uses it as a dipping sauce for raw vegetables. Jim, it goes to say, is not your everyday accountant.
One bottle is enough to season over a dozen dishes of pasta or vegetables.
"ancient Rome's ketchup..a modern day secret ingredient"
Olga Oksman, The Guardian
"A translucent amber liquid that is the very essence of anchovy."
Melissa Clark, cookbook author
"With Colatura, well, it’s magic. What else explains how fish and salt go in but Grand Umami Magic comes out? It truly is a magical genie in a bottle."
Matt Armendariz, mattbites.com
"Tremendous, if kind of hard to describe. It tastes of fish, though not fishy. The essence of the anchovy more than the anchovy itself: the platonic anchovy."
Bill Tonelli, Slate
“Scarcely any other liquid except perfume has been more highly valued.”