From the shores of Portugal in the West to the river valleys of ancient Mesopotamia in the East; from the Scottish borders in the North to the upper Nile in Egypt in the South, the Roman Empire’s cooking depended upon one condiment – Garum, also known as Liquamen – a fish sauce that flavored food for the millions who called themselves Roman citizens for over 400 years.
Surprisingly, Garum is still made commercially today, as a bottled fish paté in Europe, though its use has waned since the fall of the Roman Empire.
- 500 grams small fish (smelt, sprat, anchovy, sardine), whole
- 375 grams sea salt
- 1 tablespoon fresh oregano with a top
- Rinse the fish under running water, leave them intact (do not remove gills, innards or whatever).
- Put fish, salt and oregano in a cooking pan, add enough water to cover the fish with one or two inches of liquid on top.
- Bring to the boil, let boil for fifteen minutes. The fish are cooked to a pulp. Crush the fish even more with a wooden spoon, continue boiling until the liquid starts to thicken.
- Now start straining. First use a coarse strainer or colander to remove all the larger bits and pieces. Then strain the liquid several times through a kitchen cloth until the liquid is clear. Depending on the fish you use, and how long everything has boiled, you'll end up with a pale yellow to deep amber coloured liquid.
- Let it cool completely, and keep it in a glass jar in the refrigerator. It may be that salt crystals are collecting at the bottom of the jar.
- Because of the high content of salt, this sauce will keep for years. You'll need but a tea- or tablespoon full at the time. Take care that you use a completely clean spoon for taking garum out of the jar.