Why You Should Always Have Colatura Di Alici In Your Pantry

If you're obsessed with salty seasides, umami flavors, and all things Italian, then you're definitely going to want to try colatura di alici. Translated as "anchovy drippings", colatura is a fish sauce that's similar to Southeast Asian versions, but boasts an Italian flair. Aside from being a great talking piece, there are a bunch of reasons why you should always keep a bottle of colatura di alici in your pantry.

Anchovy-based, Serious Eats notes that the fish sauce is a distant relative of garum, a fermented fish sauce used heavily in ancient Roman cuisine. However, the product continues to remain popular in Italian food culture, so much so that colatura di alici produced in Cetara even has DOP status, which ensures quality and that it's made according to tradition.

With all production happening along the Amalfi coast, Colatura di Alici explains that fish are caught from March through July and are swiftly gutted, filleted, and layered by hand with sea salt in small chestnut barrels known as "terzigni." Covering the wooden casks with weights, Slow Food reports that the anchovies are left to ferment, causing a liquid (colatura) to be produced. After several months of aging, the amber-coloured liquid is bottled and ready to be used — but for what exactly?

It adds umami richness to any and every dish

Pungent, full-bodied, and saturated with savoriness, colatura di alici recalls those same salty flavors of the sea without being overly fishy. Instead, the sauce has a rich funkiness, meaning that a few drops goes a long way. Plus, given its strenuous production process, colatura can be expensive, making it an investment ingredient like aged balsamic, which is also why it should be used sparingly — say, as a finishing sauce.

Because it does have distinct anchovy flavor, Bon Appétit recommends using a splash of colatura in place of an anchovy filet works well, especially in vinaigrette to add some umami to fresh salads. But, it can also pair well with other fish or meat dishes to amp up the savouriness. In addition, you can add a drizzle to sandwiches, pizza, or crostini. Colatura even lends itself beautifully for cocktails that are full of earthy funk!

However, the best way to use colatura di alici, according to Nel Cuore Della Sicilia, is to use it as a base for pasta. The perfect way to add big, bold flavors without doing too much work, a dash of colatura added to spaghetti aglio e olio is truly heavenly. But, don't take our word for it, pick up a bottle and see for yourself just how versatile this anchovy sauce can be!