Bottarga, also called "caviar of the Mediterranean", is used for gourmet preparations and savory dishes. But what is it? Not everyone knows that bottarga is an ancient fish food resulting from the drying of mullet or tuna roe that first undergo a salting process. In this article we explain what bottarga is, how it tastes like and how to best use this delicious ingredient!
What is bottarga
Produced mainly in Sardinia, Sicily and Tuscany, bottarga is obtained from the salting and drying of mullet and tuna roe. The ovarian sac of the female fish is extracted, cleaned carefully and the eggs are first salted and then dried for a period of at least 90 days in a complex system of wooden boards weighted with stones. Bottarga is then cleaned of excess salt, revealing its shadowy color almost tending to gold. It is precisely this process that makes bottarga a particularly valuable ingredient and used in the kitchen with great parsimony! On the market, bottarga is sold as whole baffles or in jars and its cost can vary from 60 to 300 euros per kilogram.
How bottarga tastes like
Bottarga has a strong, very salty and slightly bitter flavor that vaguely recalls the flavor of almonds. Among all the varieties of bottarga, that of mullet is certainly the most valuable and for this reason it is also called "caviar of the Mediterranean" or "gold of Sardinia".
How to use bottarga for cooking
Due to its rich and strong flavor, bottarga is usually grated in small quantities on fish-based first courses. An alternative way to taste this product is to cut it into very thin slices and eat it with just a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil as a condiment. Certainly among the most popular dishes we find spaghetti alla bottarga, a simple and very easy dish to make; make a simple condiment based on garlic and chilli pepper fried in a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, cook the spaghetti al dente, drain and pour into the pan with the sauce, grate the bottarga and sauté everything for a minute.