What is colatura di alici?
Colatura di alici is a deeply savoury Italian fish sauce; it derives from a sauce called garum that was popular in ancient Rome. It's produced in Campania from fermented local anchovies caught off the Amalfi Coast, notably at a fishing village called Cetara. The amber liquid is sold in small bottles, an indication of its potency. Colatura di alici is considered a delicacy and priced as such. Thankfully a little goes a long way.
Why do we care?
This sauce adds complexity and depth to many dishes. It's a natural addition to many a seafood dish, but also excellent for seasoning a simple grilled steak, say, or in a quick pasta dish like the one here. The secret is to add it at the end of cooking to preserve its punch.
Where can I buy colatura di alici?
Italian delicatessens and specialist food shops such as Simon Johnson (simonjohnson.com) are your best bet for this essential Italian ingredient.
COLATURA DI ALICI RECIPE
Spaghettini con colatura di alici
Cook 400gm dried spaghettini in a saucepan of boiling salted water until al dente (5-6 minutes). Drain and return to the pan with 2 tbsp of the cooking water. Meanwhile, heat 60ml extra-virgin olive oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat, add 2 finely chopped garlic cloves, the finely grated rind of ½ lemon and ½ tsp dried chilli flakes and stir until fragrant (20-30 seconds). Add spaghetti and cooking water, and toss over heat to coat well. Season generously to taste with freshly ground black pepper, then add ¼ cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley, 2 tbsp colatura di alici and the juice of ½ lemon, and toss to combine. Check seasoning and serve hot topped with toasted coarse sourdough breadcrumbs.