Not many people seem to be familiar with a pasta dressing originating from the Amalfi Coast, specifically from the maritime village of Cetara: colatura di alici.
Yet here, this sauce dating back to Roman times is part of the traditional meal prepared on Christmas eve, used as a sauce for spaghetti and linguine, which should be cooked in unsalted water since the colatura itself is quite salty.
The anchovies used for this recipe are caught in the waters off the Amalfi Coast from the end of March to the beginning of July. Following an ancient procedure handed down from father to son by the fishermen of Cetara and still practiced in many families of the coastal village, the anchovies are placed inside wooden barrels, with alternating layers of sea salt. The barrels are covered with a wood top on which are placed weights, usually marine stones. The anchovies are left to mature for four to five months. By December, the amber-colored juice produced by the anchovies is drained through a hole poked in the bottom of the barrel .
This unique condiment can also replace salt to flavor boiled or fresh vegetables, such as potatoes, endives, broccoli, and some seafood dishes.
Colatura di alici prepared the traditional way is protected by a Slow Food Presidium, a way to safeguard small artisanal productions in danger of disappearing.
Click here to try a fantastic recipe for linguine with colatura di Alici and erbe di campo to add to your table this Christmas eve and celebrate like they do in Cetara!