Bottarga: The New Truffle
Bottarga is the new luxury ingredient that will wow your guests.
Move over, truffle. There’s a new player in town among chefs and cooks in-the-know who are looking for a luxurious flavor-bomb of an ingredient to shave or grate atop a dish, and its name is bottarga.
Though still not a widely known ingredient, bottarga has been slowly gaining buzz recently as an interesting way to add oomph to pastas, veggies and other plates. But what exactly is it? Bottarga is the salted, cured roe sac of a fish, most commonly from tuna or grey mullet species. Though its origins are Greek and Italian – Sardinians and Sicilians are the biggest consumers currently — coastal communities in Brazil, Portugal, Africa and beyond make their own version. Depending on the culture, the drying time will vary, which has an impact on the taste and the firmness of the final product. Less drying time will lead to a sliceable, almost fruit leather texture. More drying time will further intensify the flavor.
Also check out: Buying Real Truffles
In culinary practice, bottarga is used similarly to a truffle. Because a little goes a long way, it’s thinly sliced, shaved or grated into dishes to add massive amounts of flavor and umami. Think prosciutto meets anchovies, only more exotic. If you’ve been to southern Italy, you may have seen (or already eaten) the classic Italian dish of spaghetti (often with squid ink) and bottarga, which lets the flavor of the bottarga do all the talking.
Price-wise, bottarga is expensive, though not at the levels of truffles. There’s several reasons for this: Firstly, it’s a man-made product, unlike wildly foraged and perishable truffles. Secondly, because it’s cured and generally sealed in beeswax, bottarga’s shelf life is much longer than a fresh truffle. Third, because it hasn’t become the next “it” ingredient (yet), prices for bottarga have stayed mostly stagnant. At anywhere from about $10-$20 per ounce, bottarga is readily available online from various producers.
Once you have your bottarga, storage is a breeze. Don’t be alarmed if it’s shipped without refrigeration, as it can stay at room temperature (remember, it’s cured and likely sealed in wax) until you open it.
Then, simply keep it in an airtight container or bag in our Perfect Temp Drawer for up to a year. Storing it here will lock in freshness and flavor.
Wow your next dinner party guests with this little-known ingredient, or just grate some on top of your Sunday morning eggs and think about planning that next adventure to Sicily.