How do different cultures eat Bottarga?
Bottarga -the dried fish roe- developed in several places in the world simultaneously, in Northern Africa and Arab countries such as Egypt, Israel, and in Southern Europe such as Greece, Italy and Turkey.
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.” Since then Bottarga, (from the Occitan botarga) also called bottarga (Italian), butàriga (Sardinian) & avgotaraho (Greek), has spread around the world and is considered one of the worlds’ best delicacies.
In Sardinia, Bottarga functions primarily as a condiment, and it can be eaten alone, or with a little celery, or as antipasti, and is increasingly requested by those just beginning to discover the island. In other places of Southern Italy, Bottarga can be the main ingredient in pasta dishes (spaghetti alla chitarra con bottarga) either with the addition of extra virgin olive oil or as the main ingredient in a tomatoe and garlic sauce.
In Sicily they eat slices of Bottarga on ripe tomatoes, or on top of flatbreads sprinkled with olive oil and fresh herbs.
The Lebanese slice their Bottarga and eat it with raw garlic and dunked in olive oil, but the deep orange roe is most often shaved or grated to adorn everything from pasta to compound butter with its bright, briny flavor.
In Greece, it is the quintessential ingredient in Tarama – the dip which begs ouzo and good times.
In almost all Mediterranean countries Bottarga is served with a touch of olive oil and lime, accompanied by bread and green olives
Bottarga can also be paired with a glass of an alcoholic beverage such Arak, Pernaud, Vodka, or fig liquor.
Use your Bottarga little by little, in shavings, slices, crumbled, anywhere you might envision the use of anchovies as well. The flavor goes a long way, so don’t worry about the expense. You can make it last.
Photo by Ibán