What is Bottarga?
Posted on May 27 2016
As part of the Paleo paradigm, one of the foundational components is the concept of eating nose to tail, or perhaps, nose to fin. Some of the most nutrient-dense components are not the muscle meats, but in fact the organ meats and fish roe.
These ‘alternative’ cuts of meat and fish provide us with nutrients in their most absorbable forms, most notably, pre-formed vitamin A or retinol. Vitamin A is one of the 4 fat-soluble vitamins along with vitamins D, E and K. Vitamin A supports vision health, skin health, it is considered the anti-infective vitamin by supporting your immune system, it supports bones and teeth as an integral part of the vitamin D-K2 and calcium network, it supports fertility and pregnancy and it even helps inhibit tumor development.
You may have been well aware of the benefits of eating liver or taking your cod liver oil to obtain your vitamin A, but another source is by eating fish roe. Depending on where you live, obtaining access to fish roe may be difficult. If you struggle to get fresh fish roe, or are looking for a year-round source an alternative is to consider dried fish roe.
Enter in, Bottarga.
Bottarga is a delicacy from the Mediterranean and is dried fish roe from either tuna or gray mullet. Traditionally, once the roe is removed from the fish it is rinsed and salted and then left to dry for two days. The roe is then pressed between pieces of wood to give it a rectangular shape and then hung to age for up to five months.
Bottarga is meant to be used sparingly. When thinly shaved I found it had notes of Parmesan cheese that felt decadent. Following the taste of Parmesan, you find the essence of the sea come through which when added to an entrée gives the dish an added depth.
I love to finely grate the Bottarga and add the golden curls to my spaghetti sauce. The Bottarga melts beautifully into the sauce and gives it a subtle dose of ‘umami’. The flavor is not overpowering but just adds depth and dimension to your dish. You could also add it to your spaghetti squash with olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper for a lovely side dish to a Mediterranean meal.
Bottarga is a great resource to sneak in extra nutrition into your meals and a little goes a long way!