Garum (Fish Sauce) Completed

PREVIOUSLY ON ANTHROCHEF!. . . .

We started a batch of what the Romans called Garum, a delicacy across Ancient cultures: fish sauce! The gross way to say it? Fermented fish guts.

(NOTE: In a couple weeks, I will merge this post with part 1 into one post)

It’s been almost 8 weeks. My layers of salted, chopped sardines have been fermenting in the fridge, their essence dissolving in salt, for 8 weeks.  This could go for much longer, but I think it’s ready to strain and try!

I made Liquid Gold:20190124_125250.jpg

Line a mesh strainer with two double layers (yes, a lot) of cheese cloth, pouring in the fish mixture. It will take a long time to strain this way, but you will be rewarded with a cleaner sauce. Feel free to stir to help the process along.

I HIGHLY suggest doing this outside!

And that’s it! The end result is a sauce that’s similar, but also distinct from fish sauce bought in the store.  It’s actually less fishy, with more of a delicious, meaty, umami blast of saltiness.  It’s great in stirfries, mixed with other things into dipping sauces, or added just a couple drops at a time to nearly anything to give great depth of flavor.  It’s no wonder civilizations across history and geography have all enjoyed their own versions of garum.

Homemade Feta Cheese

The first mention in the historical record of cheese aged in brine, known today as “feta”, is in Homer’s Odyssey.  In one of their first adventures after sacking Troy, Odysseus and his men find themselves on the island home of Polyphemus, the cyclops son of Poseidon.  The Mycenaean travelers notice that they aren’t in some typical monster’s lair.  Rather, it’s clear the cyclops is a dairy farmer and cheesemonger, and lives in a full blown cheese cave.

“We entered the cave, but he wasn’t there, only his plump sheep grazed in the meadow. The woven baskets were full of cheese, the folds were full of sheep and goats and all his pots, tubs and churns where he drew the milk, were full of whey. When half of the snow-white milk curdled he collected it put it in the woven baskets and kept the other half in a tub to drink for his supper.”

So while the threat of being devoured remained a threat for Odysseus and his men, Polyphemus is at least civilized enough to pair human flesh with finely brined feta cheese.

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Making our own just like it is really an easy process, it just takes several days. Continue reading “Homemade Feta Cheese”