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Bottarga Tastes Like Summer


Bottarga is summer on a plate.  More specifically, summer on the hot, fragrant Mediterranean where it’s been a briny, brightening cooking staple for thousands of years.

For the uninitiated:  Bottarga is a dense cured fish roe made from tuna, gray mullet or swordfish.  Making it involves massaging the roe pouch of the fish until its air pockets disappear. It is then dried and cured in sea salt – a technique traced back to the Phoenicians.

Often called the poor man’s caviar, well-traveled home cooks have been quietly going about the business of using it in everything from pasta to flatbreads to dips.   This is an affordable luxury (not cheap, but not caviar either) of the lasting kind.  Shave a little into your pasta today and a few months later, it’ll still be in fine form.

Ready to jump on the bandwagon?  Mario Batali’s Linguine with Zucchini and Bottarga is an excellent gateway recipe.   Or better yet,  try this stunning risotto recipe from Italy’s rising superstar chef Giancarlo Perbellini:  Shallot Risotto with Smoked Bottarga, Foraged Mushroom Emulsion & Crispy Bread Crumbs.   With dabs of intense mushroom, salty bottarga shavings, and a sprinkle of breadcrumbs for crunch,  this is Italian comfort food at it’s best.

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