Sardinia is the second largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. With 1,149 miles of coastline, it is no wonder that many seafood dishes are part of traditional Sardinian cuisine. One such delicacy is bottarga.
Bottarga is the salted, pressed and dried roe (eggs) of the grey mullet. Grey mullet are found in waters globally. It is one of the staple fish harvests from all over the Mediterranean Sea. Variations of bottarga can be found in many Mediterranean nations, with variations on how it is served. Italian bottarga is often served as an appetizer with olive oil or lemon juice, accompanied by bread. It is also used in simple pasta dishes.
Shaved, sliced, chopped or grated, it only takes a small amount of bottarga to provide a world of flavor. This is an ingredient where just a little bit goes a long way to add a punch of flavor. The taste is distinctive: salty, a little briny, and of course it has a delicate fish taste. A popular way to use Sardinian grated bottarga is with pasta that has been tossed with olive oil and garlic. It is also delicious sprinkled over salads or steamed vegetables. Once you’ve tasted it, let your imagination run wild with new ways to add this flavor everyday food. Try just a pinch with scrambled eggs, or a light sprinkling over deviled eggs. Maybe a touch of bottarga would be good in risotto? Part of the joy of discovering a new ingredient, is discovering new ways to enjoy it!
In Sardinia, the best time to harvest grey mullet is in late Summer to early Autumn, when the fish are full of roe. The egg sacks are painstakingly removed with the utmost care to avoid breaking them, then are salted, pressed, and dried.
Total drying time can vary from a few weeks to several months, depending on the desired taste and texture for the final product. The preparation of Italian bottarga has changed little over the years, and dates back to approximately ca.1500. In the days before modern refrigeration, this was an excellent method of preserving food.Tasting Sardinian grated bottarga is like tasting a part of Sardinian fishing history.