Spaghetti alla Bottarga
Region: Italy, Sardinia
Category: Pasta with Fish
Difficulty: Easy and Quick
The salting of fish roe, called bottarga in Sardinia and Sicily, derives from the Arabic batarikh, which in turn derives from the Coptic pitaoichon or the Greek tarichoe, meaning salted fish or meat. It is an old art found in several places in the Mediterranean besides Sardinia, such as in Provence and Egypt. One of the favorite ways of using bottarga in Sardinia is grated over spaghetti. In this dish bottarga is grated onto and tossed with spaghetti, and it almost looks like curry-it's golden and glistens from the olive oil. Bottarga in Sardinia is either di tonno (tuna) or di muggine (gray mullet) and restaurant menus often specify which. Fluff the spaghetti a few times and taste the extraordinary. When I first tasted Spaghetti alla Bottarga in the Trattoria Gennargentu in Cágliari, I also noticed that other people were eating very thinly sliced or grated bottarga with raw crunchy celery, a popular Sardinian antipasto.
Yield: Makes 4 to 6 servings
Preparation Time: 25 minutes
1 pound spaghetti
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 large garlic clove, peeled and crushed
2 to 3 ounces bottarga, finely grated
3 tablespoons very finely chopped fresh parsley leaves (optional)
1. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil, salt lightly (not abundantly as instructed elsewhere because the bottarga is salty), and add the pasta. Drain when al dente.
2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet or casserole gently heat the olive oil over a low heat with the crushed garlic and all but 2 tablespoons of the grated bottarga until the bottarga begins to sizzle. Turn the heat off and wait until the spaghetti is ready. Remove and discard the garlic cloves. Add the spaghetti to the casserole and toss well with two forks or tongs until completely coated with bottarga. Serve with a sprinkle of the remaining bottarga and the parsley if using.