Spaghetti con bottarga
Posted July 31, 2010on:
Bottarga di muggine is made from the roe of the grey mullet (muggine), which is extracted, molded in its membrane, salted and then dried in the sun. It is most commonly used in Sardinian cuisine so it is no surprise that the finest bottarga comes from the mullets fished in the Cabras, a lake off the shores of western Sardinia.
Below is a picture of 1 piece of bottarga but it typically comes in pairs and there is an amber-orange to dark reddish-brown color to it, depending on how you look at it.The taste is salty, even briny but there is a delicate undertone of spiciness that lingers in your mouth.
Another kind is bottarga di tonno, the roe of the tuna. This one is drier and sharper in texture while being coarser in flavour. This type of bottarga is more commonly used by cuisines found in the eastern Mediterranean.
There are 2 main schools of cooking with bottarga: those who use olive oil and those who use butter. Olive oil are for traditionalists, who maintain that fish should only be cooked in olive oil; whereas butter is believed to soften and sweet the strong flavours of the bottarga.
While I would prefer to cook with butter, I decided to use olive oil this time. In Sardinia, the traditional pasta used is malloreddus, which is something like gnocchi. However we can just substitute it with spaghetti or even tonnarelli.
First you have to grate the bottarga roe finely, about 1/4 cup is enough for 2 people as bottarga isn’t cheap at all.
Then together with a large pinch of salt, sauté the onions in olive oil until slightly browned.
Once the pasta is done, mix it with some good quality extra virgin olive oil, like the “Santini” I used before. Then toss it a few times with the onions and sauce in the pan. Finally, sprinkle a tablespoon of chopped parsley, a small pinch of lemon zest, and finally the grated bottarga. Toss throughly to ensure even coating of the pasta.
And there you have it, the simple yet delicious spaghetti con bottarga!