By the best accounts, Bottarga seems to be of Phoenician origin. (Modern day Lebanon) The Arabs brought it with them when they settled in Sicily, and from there it was taken to Provence in Mediterranean France. According to a document dated 1386, a Catalonian-Aragonese ship captured another corsair ship from Oristano loaded with “eel and Bottarga.” In 1400, Batrolomeo Platina said that he had “no memory of eating anything more exquisite,” and that it was an “honest pleasure and for good health.”
In Sicily and Sardinia, this specialty gourmet food is known as Bottarga and it comes in 2 varieties: Bottarga di Muguine (Grey Mullet Bottarga) and Bottarga di Tonno (Tuna Bottarga).In Mediterranean France it is known as Poutargue. In Egypt, Grey Mullet was the original roe used for Battarekh (the Arabic word for Bottarga).
Bottarga is a Mediterranean delicacy and was once known as “the poor man’s caviar,” but today it is widely recognized as the “gold of Sardinia.” It is made from the roe pouch of either Tuna or Grey Mullet. The air is massaged by hand out of the roe. Then, if it is to be dry Bottarga, the product is cured in salt and dried for several weeks. The end result is a hard slab that is coated in beeswax. It can be either thinly sliced or grated depending on the use or recipe.
Bottarga is best known in Italy as a gourmet ingredient used in Sicilian and Sardinian cuisine with properties comparable to dry anchovies, but with a much more delicate flavor. It is often used in pasta dishes or it can be served with lemon juice as an appetizer. In Lebanon, Bottarga is sliced and covered with a slice of raw garlic. Then it is immersed in olive oil and eaten with flat bread.
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Learn more about the history and origin of the specialty and gourmet food known as Bottarga.
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