- Sicily, Italy
Scalia is known for its anchovy fillets packed in extra-virgin olive oil
- yes, extra-virgin! Many companies, especially those available in the grocery store, use second-press oil or a less flavorful oil like sunflower or soybean. In addition, these anchovies have been aged for at least 12 weeks
and this means richer, more complex flavors.
About the Anchovies
This little fish is a small, warm water relative of the herring, a Northern European staple. And just as the peoples of the north salted their herring to preserve them, the anchovy has long been salted by fishermen and packers in the Mediterranean, where it is a staple.
Anchovies are packed in one of two ways, brined fillets that are packed in olive oil
(that is, the good ones are packed in olive oil!) either in jars or cans, and whole salted fish packed in salt, usually in large cans.
What is most important about these little Sicilian blue fish is that they are only taken during the proper season
- otherwise they will have a mushy texture when they are preserved - and cleaned and salted as soon as possible after they are caught. Because of Scalia's attention to detail, it is possible for us to discover the flavor and texture of the ancient Mediterranean.
From one end of the peninsula to the other, Italians use these little, aromatic, preserved fish in
almost any conceivable dish
. While in the south, they seem to show up with practically the same frequency they use olive oil, they are also a common addition numerous sauces
, salads, and other dishes in the north.
About the Producer
Scalia Benedetto has been one of the top Sicilian
companies for preserving fish since 1973. While they're neither as large nor as old as their major competitors, this allows them to do things the old-fashioned way
, and the difference is clear in the flavor and texture oil-packed fillets and salt-packed whole anchovies.
The company was founded by Benedetto Scalia in Sciacca Thermae on the Agrigento coast of southwest Sicily, a city famous for its fishing fleet. Their anchovy products are carefully processed by the women of Sciacca using traditional techniques.