Paris, France — It is a delicacy, the bottarga, this salted cured fish roe produced around the Mediterranean Sea. The roe typically comes from grey mullet but sometimes bluefin tuna. The roe sac of the fish is salted, massaged to expel the air pockets then pressed, dried and wrapped in wax which allows for its conservation. It seems to date back to Antiquity, showing up in Egypt in the 10th century although apparently the delicacy was enjoyed by the Byzantines and Byzantium was colonized by the Greeks in 600B.C. Meanwhile the technique is thought to have originated with the Phoenicians some 3,000 years ago. In any case it travelled all over the world and so dried and smoked fish roe is today also a delicacy in South Korea and Japan. In Europe it is popular throughout the Mediterranean region in Tunisia, Greece, Italy and France among others.
It has powerful taste and is destined to liven up your vegetables or pasta dishes. You can eat it on its own, but be sure it is very thinly sliced. The French house of Koskas & Fils has been fashioning and purveying Bottarga or boutargue or poutargue as it called in France for three generations and will be celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. The house was born in Tunisia before moving to Paris where it opened its first boutique in 1991. As demand for the delicacy increased the Koskas family opened up new stores, and today the house has five beautifully appointed boutiques in Paris. The Koskas family recommends two simple recipes for enjoying bottarga. Simply grating it over spaghetti and olive oil, then cutting thin slices of the bottarga with a potato peeler to add in for even more flavor. They also suggest scrambled eggs into which thin slices of the delicacy have been added.
©The Gourmet Gazette