Cetara Anchovy Sauce DOP

The Amalfi Coast is a must for all gourmets and among the many gastronomic specialties that the area offers, one of the most famous and appreciated is the Cetara Anchovy Sauce DOP, a sauce with a very intense flavor that is obtained by maturing in salt of the blue fish species Engraulis encrasicolus L. (commonly called alice). The history of Cetara is closely linked to the fishing economy and in particular to anchovy fishing.

The origins of this exceptional ingredient are lost in time. It is said to descend from garum, a sauce that the ancient Romans added as a condiment to many dishes. It was prepared in a crock with chopped aromatic herbs, small, whole fish (probably anchovies) and large fish cut into pieces (perhaps mackerel or tuna), all covered with a layer of coarse salt. The great imperial chef Apicius made extensive use of it. The “discovery” of colatura, as we know it today, occurred around the 13th century thanks to an intuition of the Cistercian monks of the ancient Canonica di San Pietro a Toczolo (located near Amalfi), who used to conserve under he salts the anchovies in wooden barrels with the slats removed.

The product is obtained following an ancient procedure that local fishermen have handed down for generations. The starting raw material consists of anchovies fished in the sea area in front of the province of Salerno (with a maximum distance from the coast of 12 miles) with the traditional method of purse seine nets. The fishing season runs from late March to mid-July. Once caught, the anchovies are removed from the head and entrails and then placed, in alternating layers with sea salt, in wooden containers (called quadrigni), on which weights are placed. The slow maturation of the anchovies then begins (which lasts approximately 7-9 months), at the end of which the liquid is filtered, exposed to the sun and finally bottled.

According to the PDO production specifications, it must meet certain characteristics. In appearance it must be clear and brilliant with an amber color, tending towards mahogany brown. It is characterized by an intense odor and has a strong flavor with high flavor. Traditionally it is used to season spaghetti but it can be used to flavour, instead of salt, fresh or boiled vegetables (potatoes, escarole, broccoli, etc.) and some fish dishes. They combine harmoniously with the colatura: garlic, chilli pepper, pepper, olives, capers and the inevitable olive oil. And in addition to being particularly tasty, it is also full of benefits for our body.

Anyone who wants to know more about this highly sought-after condiment can visit the first Cellar Museum entirely dedicated to fishing and anchovy sauce. Set up in the lower rooms of the Viceregal Tower in Cetara, it collects testimonies on the development of fishing in the seaside village and on everything related to anchovy sauce. There is also a festival dedicated to the product, which is held every year in Cetara in the first half of December, coinciding with the tapping of the new colatura.

Photo © iFood.it