All cooks are looking for that little touch – some call it nafas – that will give their food a spark. You might find it in a special vinegar, or salt – or fish sauce. The search for OOMPH is apparently timeless. Some historical records cite garum as the first real condiment, carried throughout the Byzantine and Roman empires by soldiers looking to add a little flavor to otherwise lackluster food. Oh, those Romans.
The taste for garum is alive and well today with colatura, an Italian version of fish sauce that adds that little something to recipes. It’s a total umami bomb, especially when you lightly drizzle it on roasted vegetables, in a simple salad of cucumbers, olives, and pistachios, and even in a vinaigrette. Go ahead and add it to some classic spaghetti with a hefty dose of Parmesan cheese. Use a light hand – it’s easy to add more but hard to take away.
I get my colatura from the Italian importers Gustiamo – and they get it from producers on the Amalfi Coast. Talk about oomph.
photo credit: amalficoast.com