Nettuno Colatura di Alici on Business Insider

How do 20,000 lbs of anchovies spend 3 years transforming into Anchovy Sauce? Let our Giulio Giordano show you behind the scenes of one of Italy’s most fascinating ingredients. We ran into this gorgeous Business Insider episode about the most precious fish sauce around and we couldn’t contain our excitement to see Giulio and his Nettuno Colatura di Alici on screen. Giulio, you’re an absolute natural TV talent!!

Business Insider chose Giulio and his tiny lab in Cetara, on the Amalfi Coast, to understand how the small oily anchovy goes from being just another fish in the sea to an exquisite, artisanal, and yes, premium fish sauce. Hint: it’s all about time.

“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.”

Quality Starts at Sea

“When it comes to making high-quality colatura di alici, the Italian name for anchovy sauce, the freshness of the anchovy makes all the difference.”

For generations, Giulio and his family have been relying on the catch of Cetarese fishermen working in the waters around the Gulf of Salerno.

“When the fisherman has the fish in the net, he calls us at night to let us know and brings it to us,” explains Giulio.

Salting and Aging

The catch arrives in the morning, and immediately Giulio starts beheading and eviscerating each anchovy by hand, before mixing them with handful after handful of Trapani sea salt from Sicily. “My grandfather used Trapani salt, so we also use Trapani salt,” Giulio points out. “This is the most important stage: the salting. And as my grandfather used to say, it must be done in silence. One by one: the belly of one fish against the back of another. It will be arranged like this, belly and back, so that when we then go to press the fish, there won’t be any empty spaces.”

Giulio layers the anchovies in wooden “terzigni”, chestnut-wood barrels topped with a heavy sea stone.

“Each barrel fits about 50 to 60 anchovies, depending on the size of the fish. It takes three years and about 50 to 60 pounds of fresh anchovies to produce just a liter of anchovy sauce. Making colatura di alici is a meticulous and time-consuming process, but one [Giulio] thoroughly enjoys.”

Colatura di Alici is Born

Time to tap the barrels. Giulio drills a 2mm hole into the bottom of the terzigno, and slowly the precious liquid drips out. Drop by drop, the Colatura filters through the layers of salt and anchovy bones inside each barrel. It should be a dark amber color with the pleasant aroma of salted fish.

Chef Pasquale Torrente, old-time friend and #1 Nettuno Colatura enthusiast, describes it majestically, while he’s plating one of the most deliciously simple pasta dishes in Italy: Spaghetti con la Colatura. “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 bitter. In my opinion, it’s a thorough flavor.”

Giulio’s family has been making colatura di alici since 1915. This bellissimo video is not only a testament to his craft, his secret moves, his commitment to total quality. Frame after Frame, Giulio’s words in front of the Business Insider camera tell us the story of a family and their dedication to a traditional food that must be kept alive. To quote Giulio: “The most beautiful thing of this job is remembering the things that my grandfather and father did.”

Buy Giulio’s Colatura di Alici here

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