I may not be very good at things like skiing, swimming or running, but if there was an olympic competition for multi-tasking I would win all the medals. I think it’s become almost impossible for me to do just one thing, and one thing only. I realize that as a woman, wife and mother that the multi-tasking gene is hardwired into my being. But I’ve proudly taken it to another level. Since I started this blog, things like cooking, shopping, traveling and general world watching have now become officially work. My entire life is one big multitasking extravaganza.
Which is why I am so appreciative when I see multitasking in others.
When I was down in Campania last month, learning how anchovies are caught and cured, I also learned how this complex and time consuming operation has another delicious byproduct: colatura. While the anchovies are being cured and getting ready for their entry into jars and onto our table, they are also busy multitasking: producing this salty, magical golden elixir.
I’ve long been using colatura, but actually had never seen exactly how it was produced. I somehow associated it with the ancient Roman garum, which was a fermented byproduct of intestines and other non-edible fish parts. Instead, colatura is a much more straightforward process that involves no fish innards whatsoever.
When the anchovies are curing in their barrels for upwards of a year, the salt in which they sit is leaching out the liquid from the fish. Not only does it cure the flesh, it also helps to then preserve them. When the barrels are finally cracked open, they are first tipped onto their sides, which is when the precious multitasking bears fruit. Rather than let the liquid run down the drain, the mixture of fish and salt and time is carefully caught, then aged in wooden barrels for yet another year.
The result is colatura, the most intense , fishy and complex taste you can imagine. It is very concentrated, so a little goes a very long way. Down on the Amalfi coast I saw it used in many ways, (on top of tomato salad was the most surprising) But my favorite way was a simple dish of pasta.
Luckily the chef who cooked this for me invited me into the kitchen where I learned I had been doing things all wrong when it came to colatura. The precious liquid is dosed out into a large bowl and then emulsified with olive oil and cold water first, forming a luscious dressing. Who knew?
It’s very much a technique kind of thing, so I made a video of the chef in action. And yes, I had a meal, but I also now have a video and a blog post. Multi-tasking, 24/7.
This video was filmed at:
Pensando a Te
Via dei Due Principati 40
I was invited to visit Cetara and Amalfi coast by Manacaretti Food Importers, and was the guest of IASA.