Garum fish sauceThe recipe was a basic sause popular throughout the Roman Empire
as an accompaniament to many meals
Much of this info about garum was taken from this cool wesite: Pass the Garum. Some was rewritten and reused. Over time, I hope to have some photos and more information. Our friend Marcvs has made this a number of times and while disgusting to watch being made, it came out clear and without odor...
Nothing is so synonymous with Roman cuisine as garum, and nothing is as misunderstood. Few ingredients make people feign illness or roll their eyes as much as fish sauce--well, for those of us not living in South East Asia at least. People expect it to smell horrible and taste worse, and the idea of adding it to any meal is enough to make stomachs turn. Fish sauce is, however, not very fishy at all. Rather it is salty, with hints of cheese and meat. Its purpose in a recipe is not to stand out on its own, but rather to bring the other flavours together in harmony, something which it does exceedingly well. It will surely surprise you to learn that garum does not actually appear on its own in Apicius--rather, it is Liquamen which we use when we cook Roman food. Whilst both are sauces made from fermented fish, they are actually rather different in nature.
Garum is a condiment made from the fermented blood and innards of selected fish. Being a condiment, it was something which was added to food after cooking, much as we might use soy sauce or tomato ketchup - it was the diner who used it, not the cook.
Liquamen on the other hand is a sauce made by fermenting the whole fish, rather than just its blood and innards. This is exactly the same as modern day Asian fish sauces, such as nam pla and nuoc nam.
Here is an interesting youtube video on making Garum/Liquamen: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mPX8dpKG48M
Ancient Garum Recipe
- Gargilius Martialis, De medicina et de virtute herbarum, reprinted from A Taste of Ancient Rome by Ilaria Gozzini Giacosa, Anna Herklotz (Translator).