What is Bottarga?
Bottarga is a prized delicacy made by drying and curing fish roe from grey mullet or tuna. It can be found in various forms all around the Mediterranean, but the ones from Sicily and Sardinia are widely held to be the finest.
The name is thought to derive from the Arabic Bot-ah-rik or fish eggs and its use and traditional preparation can be traced back to the Phoenicians.
The roe is cured using sea salt and left to dry naturally in the sun for several weeks. It is then pressed into a hard, dense block which is cut into strips or “tongues” and either dipped in beeswax to form a protective coating or ground into a ready to use powder.
..and how is it used?
Bottarga is often served as an antipasto by cutting it into very small wedges or thin slices with a drizzle of lemon juice. However, it is more commonly grated or sprinkled over other dishes, like a luxury seasoning.
Sounds nice, what does it taste like?
Its flavour is bold and intense and just a little sprinkle will instantly deliver a magnificent surge of seafoodiness, carrying with it hints of smoked fish and conjuring images of the Mediterranean seaside.
Bottarga has a refined charm too and marries elegantly with countless dishes, enhancing without clashing. Check out our suggestions below for a few ideas on pairings.
Some ideas how to use Bottarga
Bottarga brings character and personality to all kinds of dishes, including most fish-based courses and many vegetable dishes too. In fact it’s one of those brilliant ingredients where you can let your imagination wander. We’d love to hear from you if you’ve concocted something delicious with Bottarga.
For inspiration here are a few simple ideas which work really well:
- Perhaps the most classic Italian dish is Spaghetti alla Bottarga – incredibly easy and fiendishly tasty. Prepare some spaghetti, drizzle on EV olive oil and add chopped parsley, (garlic if you like), a little chilli, lemon juice and sprinkle or grate some bottarga over before serving.
- Delicious with a simple tomato sauce – try it with some lightly fried cherry tomatoes. Can be served over pasta or rice.
- How about a new twist for scrambled eggs on toast? Try it!
- Wake up your baked potatoes by simply sprinkling on some bottarga. Delicious and different.
- Cut the Bottarga tongue into wedges and serve as a simple antipasto with olive oil and lemon juice.
- Whisk up some ricotta, sprinkle over the bottarga and dollop onto crostini or toasted bread.
- Artichoke hearts with bottarga, fennel and EV olive oil. Stylish!
- Greek yoghurt and (or) whipped cream, smoked salmon, fresh parsley with bottarga sprinkled over.
- A refined pizza with asparagus, onion, anchovies or tuna and bottarga.
- Bruschetta with celery, tomato salad and bottarga
- Potato, celery and tomato salad with bottarga
- Seafood risottos spring to life with a little bottarga added
- Tuna carpaccio with mixed bean salad, anchovies and bottarga.
- Try it with some Asian dishes too.
Bottarga is now found in many top restaurants as chefs are discovering its unique ability to transform a simple fish dish into a work of art. It’s also a blessing for the time-challenged chefs amongst us!