Bottarga is cured mullet or tuna eggs. The fish eggs are preserved inside the fish’s egg sack, or the ovaries.
The egg sack is washed, salted, pressed and dried according to the centuries-old tradition found in various areas of the Mediterranean. The Phoenicians enjoyed bottarga and there were even traces of it found in the Egyptian pyramids. Both the Greeks and the Romans were bottarga lovers. They considered it both a food for refined palates and a precious good for trade or gifts.
The popularity of bottarga in the Mediterranean is due, however, to the Arabs. They brought battarik, the Arab word for bottarga, to the region and spread their appreciation for their so-called caviar of the Mediterranean.
The main areas of bottarga production are essentially Sicily and Sardinia. Mullet egg sacks are smaller than those of the tuna and are considered more desirable. Mullet bottarga is found primarily in Sardinia. It is amber colored and darkens with age. Bottarga has an almost almond taste and is slightly bitter. Tuna bottarga has a stronger, more savory flavor.
Fresh bottarga is usually thinly sliced and served with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil or a piece of buttered bread. Bottarga can also be used in a salad of sliced cherry tomatoes and fresh basil. Aged bottarga, however, is best grated over a plate of hot pasta.
In the library:
G. PERISI, Cucine di Sardegna, Padova, Muzzio, 1989;
INSOR–Istituto nazionale di sociologia rurale, Atlante dei prodotti tipici: le conserve, Roma, Agra – Rai, 2004;
Caviale, champagne e altre delizie, Casale Monferrato, Piemme, c2004.