sardella

fish and chilli paste

The 'caviar of the south' is a spicy, umami-rich Calabrian speciality made along the Ionian shore, from spicy hot peperoncini, fennel tips and sardine or anchovy neonati cured in salt for up to seven months, preserved in oil and spread on bread, pizza or baked in tarts. The finest sardella is made from the fry of the red mullet (triglia), called rosamarina (which is also another common name for the same condiment, along with nudicella, caviale calabrese ('Calabrian caviar'), mùstica, mustica or sardellina). prized for its taste and reddish colour; some believe it is close to the fabled Roman condiment, garum.

Some people believe it's unethical to catch large quantities of spawn considering the low level of Mediterranean fish stocks, concerns that the Calabrians dismiss as they have been making sardella for centuries. It keeps for a year, and traditionally helped to provide protein during lean times.

In northern Italy, sardella can also refer to shad.

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