There is nothing more evocative than the sea and capturing its best produce is an extremely intriguing experience.
Anchovies (Engraulis encrasicolus) are an authentic culinary delicacy more so when they are crafted and handled by experienced hands in a truly meticulous artisan manner.
"Speed" is the key concept when salting fresh anchovies, we are aware that every minute that goes by between the capturing of the fish and it's first transformation phase is the most vital for flavour and fragrance preservation of this extraordinary silver fish.
The "slow ageing" in barrels of the salted anchovies, is of contrast to the speedy first phases of the transformation process, opposite concepts that find completion in a product of excellence that expresses single handedly all of its potential, if of course favourable micro-climate, artisanal care and timing are all equally respected.
Talatta anchovies are elaborated following the most authentic of artisanal traditions, as well as implementing a rigorous quality control system. Since the word go the Talatta group has been known for the careful elaboration of all it's products, following the artisanal methods of the ancient conserve traditions of Sciacca Sicily that date back to the 17th century. Such traditions and a "know how" that have earned Sciacca anchovies international recognition as a gastronomic delicacy.
For us the elaboration of anchovy semi preserves lays first of all in the research of superior quality of the primary raw material, caught along the Sicilian coastline in exactly the right seasonal period, between May and August, determining factor in order to obtain a final product that matches Talatta quality needs.
Even though anchovies live at over 200 metres in depth, in spring they surface and move closer to the coast to lay their eggs.
This is the optimal period, when the fatty levels increase and the taste reaches its fullness. The capture of the fish is via the traditional use of a boath light "lampara" that attracts the school of anchovies in the nets.
Once the anchovies arrive in the port, the Talatta group selects the freshest catch and the most adequate sizing for transformation, within a few hours.
As soon as the anchovies arrive in the factory they are placed under rigorous quality control. If the catch passes quality control, they are then salted in adequate containers so as to create a first semi-dehydration and blood straining process. The anchovies are cleaned manually by the Talatta groups workmen who in most cases have learned the technique by their parents who preceded them in the factory as workmen themselves.
After a first salting process the fish heads are removed, it's then de gutted and reordered rapidly in appropriate barrels, alternating a layer of anchovies and a layer of sea salt. Straight after the anchovies are placed in the barrels they undergo controlled pressure, the main objective of this technique is to obtain a perfect dehydration and elimination of fat tissue of the fish thus giving way to the maturation period.
The length of this process can oscillate between 6 and 8 months depending on the atmospheres microclimate. During this period, accurate checks are carried forward on the salted anchovies so as to verify that the product is maturing in the correct manner.
Once the anchovies have reached the optimal level of maturation and consequently the organoleptic characteristics are adequate, in the texture, the aroma, and in the taste then we proceed to the transformation into anchovy fillets.
The fillets are obtained by eliminating the skin with water and by cutting the abdominal area and the tail, then the anchovy is dehydrated with a spin dryer in order to obtain the correct humidity level. At this point the anchovies are placed in expert and patient hands, within this process the anchovies are divided in half following the natural muscular line along the spine therefor obtaining two fillets. All the fish bones are eliminated with care and the product is then submerged in oil in either tin containers or glass jars.
The sealing of the primary containers occurs via adequate high precision machinery. One last wash of the packed product and then it is labelled and stocked in cool rooms. Prior to market emission further chemical and microbiological laboratory testing is implemented so as to assure correspondence with company standards.
To date the Talatta group can rely on a collective of over 200 workers and 2 production plants of a total 30.000sqm of which 6.000sqm are undercover, strategically based in proximity of the fishing areas . Both the factory in Sciacca as well as the factory in Kelibia Tunis (Kelibia is based on the north coast of Tunisia, in front of Sicily a few marine miles from the island of Pantelleria in which waters are fished the best anchovies of the Mediterranean) both are plants of modern conception that allow the highest levels of food handling security.Â
And it could not be otherwise because Talatta means " Mediterranean sea " ...
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