In nearly every recipe we have from Ancient Rome, a key ingredient is Garum or Liquamen; fermented fish sauce. While it usually takes two months to make, I use an ancient recipe for same day garum which gave me plenty of time to look at the history of Ancient Rome's favorite condiment.
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ORIGINAL RECIPE From The Geoponica
If you wish to use the garum at once - i.e. not expose it to the sun, but boil it - make it in the following manner: Take brine and test its strength by throwing an egg into it to see if it floats; if it sinks it does not contain enough salt. Put the fish into the brine in a new earthenware pot, add oregano, put it on a good fire until it boils - i.e., until it begins to reduce. Some people also add defrutum. Let it cool and strain it two or three times, until the liquid is clear. Seal and store it away.
INGREDIENTS (Amounts are approximate)
- 2 Quarts (1900ml) Water
- 1lb (450g) Sea Salt
- 2 Teaspoons Dried Oregano
- Defrutum or Honey
- 2lbs (900g) Whole Fish (oily)
1. Add salt to the water and stir to dissolve. You may not need the full amount, so start with about 3/4s. Place an egg in the water and if the egg floats, stop adding salt.
2. Add the whole fish and the oregano (and defrutum if you are using any) to the water and place over medium-high heat and boil for 30 - 40 minutes. Every ten minutes, mash with a spoon to break up the fish.
3. Once the water has reduced to about half the amount, remove the pot from the heat and allow to cool.
4. First, pass through a colander and then strain through a kitchen cloth or paper towel until the garum is free of particles. Then bottle in a sterile bottle and refrigerate.
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