Bottarga (also called bottargo or bottariga…) is a delicacy widely used in the south of the Mediterranean: several cuisines have this fish roe amongst their ingredients, but it is commonly associated with Sardinian cuisine. Hence, it is an indispensable element of my cooking.
The preparation of this magical ingredient is rather simple: the fish roe is usually taken from grey mullet or tuna, and it is left to dry in salt after being pressed into an oblong shape. This is then coated in beeswax for preservation purposes. It has a very strong fishy flavour, which is a real speciality to be used for antipasti like in this marvellous cabbage and pine nuts dish (photo below) or as an addition to fish based pasta (like a parmigiano of the sea).
If you’ve travelled to Sardinia, I’m sure you have tried the famous Spaghetti alla Bottarga (coming soon on Blender and Basil).
The bottarga alone can be enjoyed in its full flavour by putting thin slices on a toasted slice of bread, and covering it with extra virgin olive oil. But another option is to create a fancy starter like the one I’ll walk you through today.
For my fancy antipasto I used a fennel: I washed it carefully and cut it in thin slices, then let the leaves fall apart naturally, as fennel does without much work to be done.
I sliced some bottarga and put it in a bowl with the fennel and dressed the mixture with extra virgin olive oil, lemon and black pepper (you can add salt to your personal taste, but bear in mind the bottarga is very salty itself).
This antipasto can be done with any of your favourite greens: celery, lettuce or chicory would also get on very well with this strongly flavoured delicacy. Have you tried bottarga before? If you want to try you can now find it in the best Italian delis or in Waitrose – here is a link!
Let me know what you think!