Anchovy Colatura in the Spotlight

How do 20,000 lbs of anchovies spend 3 years transforming into anchovy sauce? Business Insider chose Giulio and his tiny lab in Cetara to learn how small anchovies become the umami elixir that’s been the backbone of Amalfitana cuisine since the Ancient Romans.

Watching Giulio as he makes colatura is like watching a dance. Fishing the anchovies in the Gulf of Salerno, manually beheading them, salting with Trapani sea salt, layering in chestnut wood barrels, and then finally the liquid gold slowly dripping out. Slowwwly, that’s the key.

“There is no way Giulio can speed up the process if he doesn’t want to ruin the sauce. It must come out at its own pace, drop by drop. This makes authentic colatura di alici a true investment.” 

Giulio’s family has been making colatura di alici this way since 1915. This bellissimo video is a testament to their craft and secret moves. Frame after frame, Giulio’s words in front of the Business Insider camera tell the story of a century-old tradition that must be kept alive.

To quote chef Pasquale Torrente, a real colatura believer, “for the palate, anchovy sauce is like a pinball game. Traditional anchovy sauce starts with a sweet flavor. Then it gets savory. Then it gets slightly bitter. In my opinion, it’s a thorough flavor.” How to use it? Here are our favorite colatura recipes.