SalMŭria by Conservas El Capricho

SalMŭria - Anchovy extract by Conservas El Capricho

Extracted from the anchovies during the ageing process with only two ingredients: anchovy and salt.

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100 ml Spain

Known frequently as the Cantabrian umami or ‘the fifth flavour’, Conservas El Capricho has crystallised the most intense and rich aromas to create an amber coloured liquid: SalMŭria. Inspired by Garum – the condiment that ancient Romans couldn’t live without – this sauce is made by ripening anchovies in salt. These small, saporous fish have a legacy in the port of Santoña, Northern Spain, where the finest anchovies have been caught and exported for generations. It was Chevi Iglesias who spotted an opportunity 27 years ago, founding El Capricho right on the coast and setting out to produce the best anchovies in the world. Now run by his two sons, César and José Luis Iglesias, El Capricho uses traditional fishing methods to capture only the highest quality of produce.

SalMŭria by Conservas El Capricho
SalMŭria by Conservas El Capricho

To make SalMŭria, the anchovies are kept in salty sea water for 24 hours after they’re caught and then placed in barrels with alternating layers of salt, under the suppression of weights. The long maturation period varies between 12 to 18 months, after which the substance is filtered and the liquid collected in glass jars. Where salt is often thought to dry out dishes, this product works to moisten them with this juicy liquid. Only a limited amount is produced per barrel, making the product much in demand.

“We let nature set the pace of maturation for our anchovies, and we take a lot of time to clean each fish manually by hand. We know that it is impossible to be wrong in this way. This is how we achieve that our final product acquires the characteristic colour, the intense smell, the firm texture and the exclusive flavour that our grandparents knew.”

César and José Luis Iglesias, sons of “Chevi” Iglesias, who founded El Capricho 27 years ago

Such a strong and powerful flavour is usually used in moderation, but SalMŭria has found its way into kitchens across the world in different ways. In Italian cooking, it’s used mainly as a dressing in pasta or to saute vegetables with oil, garlic and chillies, whereas in Asia, it is used as an oil or to make soup, similar to soy sauce. A natural flavour enhancer, its ability to transform and marinate different raw produce as well as meats is how the sauce is most recognised today, and it is said that SalMŭria can increase the service life of some products.

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