What is colatura di alici?

Author: Emma Knowles
Photography: William Meppem, styling by Emma Knowles

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.

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COLATURA DI ALICI RECIPE

Spaghettini con colatura di alici
Serves 4

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.







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