When it comes to salt, I can never get enough. So you could say I was predisposed to fall for bottarga – aka cured roe from fish such as mullet – something I discovered this summer at a seaside lunch in Puglia, where this brightly coloured delicacy is a mainstay.
I had ordered a spaghettini with prawns and bottarga, and it arrived covered in a vibrant orange dusting of the rich roe – delicious. Back in New York, I sought out the delicacy and soon came across Bottarga Dell’Isola, whose version is hand-prepared in small batches in Florida, using grey mullet from the temperate waters off Florida’s Gulf coast.
Bottarga Dell’Isola is the passion project of Marc Slakmon, a gourmand whose Tunisian grandmother taught him the secrets of curing and preparing this increasingly popular condiment, which is available in whole slabs ($42 for 3-4oz) that are perfect for slicing, or in grated form ($25 for 2oz). The Bottarga Dell’Isola website also offers interesting recipes and drinks ideas – from Asian appetisers to Spanish and Italian wine pairings – and I’ve been using this new pantry staple on everything from risotto to sea bass to my morning egg-white omelette. Bottarga is a bit like truffles: it’s rich, slightly musty-tasting, and a little goes a very long way.