Mullet Bottarga: the gold of Sardinia
Mullet roe, or Bottarga di Muggine in Italian, is a characteristic ingredient in Sardinian cuisine of ancient origins and can be eaten alone or used to enrich fish dishes.
Mullet roe, nicknamed Sardinian caviar, is one of the most valuable and versatile ingredients of the island and is obtained by washing and then drying the eggs of the mullet, which is called muggine, cefalo or volpina in Italian.
The Bottarga is obtained by extracting the ovarian sac from the fish, and after being thoroughly washed, it is seasoned with sea salt and placed on a wooden board. After being cleaned, the roe is covered with another wooden board on which some rather heavy stones are placed to facilitate the compression of the sac, this way it absorbs the salt more easily.
The eggs remain under pressure from 10 to 15 days depending on the size, after which they are left to dry for a few days and then stored in a dry and ventilated place for at least 60-90 days. Once the roe is completely cured, it will have taken on the typical golden-amber colour tending to red.
Mullet roe retains the shape of the ovarian sac of the cephalon, and to be considered of quality it must have a uniform colour without spots, while the covering of the ovarian sac must be adherent to the mass of the dried eggs. Also, the cut must remain compact to demonstrate that the fish used is caught in the open sea and is not farmed.
The Phoenicians were the first to season and cure mullet eggs and to introduce the tradition of Bottarga in Sardinia about 3000 years ago, while the name would come from the Arabic word baṭāriọ which means “salted fish eggs”.
In Italy, mullet is mainly farmed in Sardinia, mostly in the area of Cagliari, Tortolì — home to the ancient fishing cooperative of Sant’Antioco, of Marceddì — a fraction of the municipality of Terralba and the pond of Cabras.
Mullet roe: the recipe that brings the scent of Sardinia to the table
Used to prepare creative recipes or grated on pasta as if it were cheese, the mullet roe can also be an appetizer: Just cut it into more or less thin slices to be placed on crostini bread, lightly buttered and seasoned with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
It has a delicate yet savoury taste, with a slightly fruity aftertaste, a compact texture and a salty and almond-like aroma.
“Spaghetti alla bottarga” is a typical first course of the island’s cuisine, and the preparation is rather simple. Let’s see which ingredients are needed and the steps to prepare a Sardinian speciality with a unique flavour:
• 300 g spaghetti
• 25 g of mullet roe
• 40 g extra virgin olive oil
• 1 shallot
• 1 lemon zest
For the panure
• 40 g breadcrumbs
• 20 g extra virgin olive oil
Make some lemon peel shavings making sure not to cut into the white part because of its bitterness. Clean the shallot, chop it finely and use about 35 g. Pour the 20 g of extra virgin olive oil into a pan, add the breadcrumbs and let them brown for a few minutes. At this point, put a pot of water on the fire for pasta and, when it has reached the boil, add a little salt. At this stage, it is important not to exceed with salt because the roe is already very tasty! While the pasta is cooking, pour 40 g of extra virgin olive oil in a pan and add the chopped shallot. Cook over low heat for a couple of minutes and then add the lemon shavings to cook for a few more moments.
Add a ladle of hot pasta water from the pot and continue cooking for about 10 minutes. Half cooked, drain the spaghetti and pour them into the pot with the sauce, make sure to keep the cooking water aside to gradually add it to the pasta as if making a risotto. Remove the outer covering of the bottarga with a small knife and, when the pasta is cooked, grate the roe directly into the pan using a grater with a large mesh. Add part of the roe, stir and turn the heat off. Serve and decorate the plate with the rest of the Mullet roe.
Mullet Bottarga: Sardinian cuisine at the Osteria del Forte in Palazzo Doglio
The traditional Sardinian dishes and all the island’s flavourful ingredients such as mullet roe are the protagonists in the kitchen of Alessandro Cocco, Executive Chef of the Osteria del Forte at Palazzo Doglio.
Alessandro Cocco is an astonishing young Italian chef who recovers the ancient arts of cooking such as homemade pasta according to tradition and reinterprets traditional cooking in a modern key, enhanced by the best seasonal and local products.
Osteria del Forte is a unique location where you can spend different moments of the day, from breakfast to continue with lunch and end with a romantic dinner surrounded by a magical atmosphere full of charm.
The restaurant is inside Palazzo Doglio, the new luxury hotel in the center of Cagliari, a stone’s throw from the old town, characterized by elegant interiors in classic style which have been reorganized in full compliance with new safety regulations. The exclusive dehors outside perfectly fit into the scenographic setting of the elegant complex of Palazzo Doglio and its wonderful Court.
Do you want to discover the tastes and scents of Sardinian cuisine and have a holiday full of charm and elegance?Discover Palazzo Doglio in Cagliari.