Bottarga: what it is and uses in the kitchen. Where to buy and useful advice. Difference with caviar and fish gonads.
The sea is a vast food source: it gives us crustaceans, mussels, molluscs, fish, algae and fish roe such as caviar (sturgeon roe) andbottarga(which is a food consisting of the entire ovary of the fish).
Bottarga: what it is
What is bottarga? It is the ovarian sac of the fish, dried and salted.
We are talking about a food consisting of the fish ovary. The ovary is the sac that contains the eggs which, before taking the name ofbottarga, undergoes a drying and salting treatment.
Thename bottarga probably derives from the Byzantine Greek “ootòrichon” which means pinpoints dried and salted fish eggs.
Therebottargais extracted from severalfishes. Very popular is thetuna bottarga even if the most classic is that of mullet.
Difference between bottarga and caviar
In both cases they are eggs. It is important to clarify that in most cases, caviar is extracted from its ovarian sac and then processed. When it comes tocaviarfurthermore, exclusive reference is made tosturgeon eggs.
Therebottargarepresentseggs and ovarian sac, the eggs are not separated and the processing is easier.
What is mullet bottarga?
The one ofmulletis the kind ofbottargamore common: it is extracted from female mullet, that is mullets. Theremullet, in fact, it represents the common mullet. When the female is full, it is gently gutted so as not to damage the integrity of the ovarian sac and its contents.
Like caviar, bottarga has also become a highly sought after and expensive dish over time. When it comes totuna bottargareference is made to the female's ovarian sacbluefin tuna, Thunnus thynnus.
Also in this case, the ovary is extracted, salted and dried.
Where to buy bottarga? In well-stocked supermarkets or looking for fishmongers that carry out self-production in seaside resorts.
How to eat bottarga: recipes
How to eat it? Once prepared, thebottargait can be used in the kitchen in several ways. It is eaten in thin slices, chopped, grated to season spaghetti or to flavor a buttered canapé.
Thererecipesimpler sees the bottarga cut into thin slices, moistened with extra virgin olive oil with a strong character and a few drops of lemon. In this way, the bottarga can be eaten alone or with croutons.
Sliced, thebottargait can be added to a green salad, it is recommended with rocket as it has a more full-bodied flavor.
Betweenrecipesthe most popular is that of pasta dressed with bottarga: spaghetti with bottarga are a must for many seaside restaurants, especially in southern Italy. When bottarga is used to season spaghetti or other pasta shapes, it must be grated as in the photos above. It adds up at the end.
For the complete recipe of a sauce based on bottarga, I invite you to visit the page dedicated to the original recipe of Trapani pesto.
Gonadi of tuna, sea urchin and bottarga
Have you ever heard of tuna lattume? Not onlyovarian sac. Some fish are also extracted fromfigatello or lattume. In this context we speak ofmale gonads.
If thebottargais given by the ovarian sac of the female tuna or mullet, thelattume of tunais given by the gonads of the male tuna, or by theseminal fluid sac of the fish caught during the breeding season.
Thelattume of tunait is a highly sought after ingredient, even if the idea can give some chills to some. Thelattumeit can be eaten fresh or dried, and it is a bit as if it were the male equivalent ofbottargaor ofcaviar.
In reality, caviar, bottarga and lattume are not the only oddities that come from the sea and that we bring to our table. When you orderspaghetti with sea urchins, you're actually eating the hedgehog's gonads. For more information on the subject: how to recognize edible sea urchins.