Recipe: Spaghetti alla Bottarga di Muggine. Pasta with grey mullet roe

A delicious Italian pasta dish from Sardinia

Bottarga is an Italian delicacy prepared from the roe of the grey mullet—it is pressed and dried, and is delicious shaved and grated over pasta.  It gives a savoury-salty flavour and is rather divine.

I have been bringing Mistress various culinary goodies from my travels around the world, as I like very much to titillate and tantalise her pallet as she titillates and tantalises every fibre of my being.  Indeed, serving Mistress through a shared love of good food is one of the growing avenues that permits me to contemplate how I might serve such a delicious person for years to come.

Bottarga is something that is a real treat, and is both simple to prepare, but singular in flavour.  It is most classically a Sardinian dish, but you will also find it in Sicily, where it is made instead with dried, pressed, tuna roe.  I have a strong preference for the more robust flavour of mullet roe that is mentioned here.

  • 500 g of dried spaghetti
  • 4 tablespoons of very finely grated bottarga
  • 20 or paper-thin slices of bottarga—if you have a truffle peeler, you can do this, if not, just grate it all
  • 4 plump cloves of garlic, peeled, crushed and minced
  • 1 shallot, minced fine
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Olive oil q.b.
  • Grated zest of ½ a lemon, optional

Bring an abundant quantity of salted water to the boil in a very large pot.

Meanwhile, mince the shallot and garlic.  Saute both in a small quantity of olive oil until just golden, and then remove from the heat.   Take care not to burn.  You want them golden and to crisp up, which they will do, but can also burn easily, so pay attention.

Remove from the heat.  Once a bit cooler, add a bit more fresh olive oil—I prefer one of the “green” and grassy flavoured fresh oils.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Cook the pasta until al dente, drain, reserving a small amount of the cooking water.  Toss the pasta into the pan with the garlic and oil, add reserved water as needed.  Sprinkle the pasta with the bottarga, slices of bottarga, and lemon zest.

Serve it forth.  Serves 4.  Delicious with a light, tart white wine.

Some delicious variations.  Of course the tradition is without the lemon zest above, but you can also find this dish prepared with a dusting of finely minced parsley, or with the addition of lightly crushed, toasted almonds, even thinly sliced or coarsely chopped white grapes (using one of the less sweet wine grape varieties).  Let your imagination guide you.

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