Spaghetti with Garum from the Ancient Roman Period

When we speak about fish sauce, we all know how particularly pungent the aroma and flavor can be. Fish sauce is an amber liquid condiment made from fish that has been covered with salt and left to ferment for up to a couple of years. The liquid that seeps out from it is the fish sauce. In Asian cuisine, known with a variety of names, it has a widespread consumption as a sharp condiment for fish, meat, vegetables or any other salty dish that needs enhancement of flavors and it's quite recognizable for the umami flavor that it imparts for its glutamate content and the powerful smell that it effuses.

As we go back to the Ancient Roman history, we discover a surprising fact. This kind of sauce has already been utilized by the Ancient Romans as condiment for their food. There is the Colatura di Alici of the small fishing town of Cetara, much similar to the Asian fish sauce but with the sole use of alici or anchovies that are traditionally fished between the 25th of March (Annunciation) and the 22nd of July (Feast of Mary Magdalene).

Another condiment used in the Ancient Roman period is the Garum, also known as Liquamen. Garum has similarities with the Colatura di Alici of Cetara, with its concept of production but its flavor and aroma has more complexities due to its composition of 25 kinds of ancient herbs and 3 kinds of oily fish. Expert researcher on Garum Giovanni Rossetti has formulated his recipe based on his extensive research on the golden liquid which he refers to as the true elixir of long life. The interaction of the 25 herbs present together with the fatty acids of the oily fish release beneficial nutrients to the body.

Utilized in this Spaghetti recipe is the Garum developed from the formula of Giovanni Rossetti, strictly based on the Ancient Roman recipe that has been existing for thousands of years. It will be available in 2020, to be produced by L'Isola d'Oro. The ingredients to be used, like their other products will be of high quality while the herbs are organically grown.

Garum does not have a pungent aroma nor flavor as compared to the
fish sauce or Colatura di Alici. It has a certain pleasant aromatic side which the 25 herbs give and particular capacity to enhance the flavor of the dish with finesse, delicacy and a lingering umami flavor.

Spaghetti with Garum, Tomatoes & Lemon Zest

Yield: Serves 4
Time: 10 minutes
  • 1 tablespoon rock salt
  • 400 grams dry spaghetti
  • 8 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 12 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 4 tablespoons Garum
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 untreated lemon, zest 
  • Handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped
  1. Bring a big pot of water to a boil, add the rock salt then follow with the dry spaghetti. Cook the spaghetti following the number of minutes suggested in the package (usually it is about 10 minutes). Lessen 1 minute from the number of minutes suggested. 
  2. In a large saucepan in medium fire, warm up 1/3 of the extra virgin olive oil. When it's hot, add the garlic, leaving it to turn lightly golden and aromatic. Discard. 
  3. Add the tomatoes and toss for about 6 minutes. 
  4. Add the garum and lemon juice then turn off the fire.
  5. Mix in the cooked spaghetti to the sauce then add the remaining ingredients: lemon zest, parsley and remaining extra virgin olive oil.
  6. Serve immediately.