The very first evening in Sardinia, in the still summer like warmth in October, we had dinner at a pizza place. As one should in Italy. As one should in Alghero.
Right then and there it felt like they served the world’s best tasting pizza! And, of course, the world’s best tasting spaghetti!
The spaghetti with mussels, cooked with white wine, garlic, olive oil, parsley, shallots and tomatos, topped off with – not with what you’re thinking the grated Parmigiano-Reggiano – but with grated Bottarga. Completely new experience for me!
Bottarga is a Sardinian specialty; a kind of roe powder that works like a salty spice.
It is not exactly the way the locals describe it…Rather like “one of the best known Sardinian gastronomic excellences” and “the taste is natural and genuine and give your dishes a Mediterranean feeling.”
In Sardinia the Bottarga is made with roe from flathead grey mullet (Mugil Cephalus): Bottarga di Muggine macinata. It has a very intense flavor. The fish roe is salted and dried, pressed to a paste and aged for at least 90 days – a process making this product unique in the world. It is only produced in a few areas in Italy, like Alghero and Stintino in Sardinia, Trapani in Sicily and the island Favignana near Sicily, as well as in a few coastal towns in Calabria at the tip of the Boot, and in Toscana further north.
You can buy Bottarga in this compact form, it looks a bit like a salami sausage, or you can buy the golden colored Bottarga already grated.
The most common way to consume Bottarga is to grate it directly onto food, as is regularly done with cheese, or it can be enjoyed sliced very thin with EVOO along a piece of toast.
It may not be cooked, so just add a pinch right before the food is served.