What is bottarga
Bottarga is cured fish roe. That fish may be tuna, grey mullet. The name probably derives from the Arab butarikh.
The eggs are salted and dried. You may find bottarga in three distinctive forms. In loafs, slices or powdered. Where loafs are more expensive and tastier. This Mediterranean caviar is easy to store. But once you taste it, there will be little to store anyway.
What to look for?
Italy has two kinds of bottarga. One made with mullet eggs, the other one with tuna. The mullet version is more expensive. Rather subtle, not to fishy. Tuna roe is saltier and more present. It is also softer, which makes grating a trifle more difficult.
This delicacy comes at a price. Avoid products that cost less than 50 euro a kilo. Then again, you’ll use few grams at the time.
Antipasto, bottarga mousse
Bottarga mousse is an excellent spread. Surprising, fresh and different from the usual. It is a classic example where few ingredients unite in something bigger than the simple sum.
Mix grated fish eggs and fresh ricotta cheese. Add some good olive oil and lemon zest, then blend. Spread it on toasted bread.
Now to underline what you are serving, sprinkle some on top.
Pasta with bottarga
This is a classic among classics. And although it is easy to prepare, it never stops to amaze.
This dish can be prepared with mullet as well as with tuna. The base is a simple garlic and oil. A drizzle of olive oil in a pan, two cloves of garlic. Take the garlic out before it starts coloring. Add grated bottarga and lemon zest. Mix the fresh cooked pasta and a ladle of cooking water. Paradise.
Slice the softer tuna version paper thin. Serve on toast or even alone. Some add it to pizza. After baking though.
Whenever you add bottarga to a recipe, do not forget to mention it. After all, you paid good money for it.