“Botargo, it’s not the Capital City of Columbia!” by MDC

While I was watching No Reservations (Sardinia Episode) on the Travel Channel today, I was reintroduced to the not so famous ingredient Botargo. It is also called bottarga (Italian), poutargue or boutargue (French), botarga (Spanish), batarekh (Arabic) or avgotaraho and is a Mediterranean delicacy of cured fish roe.

Botargo, sometimes called the poor man’s caviar, is the roe pouch of tuna or grey mullet, or swordfish. The fish is massaged by hand to eliminate air pockets, then dried and cured in sea salt for a several weeks. The resultant product is a dry hard slab, which is traditionally coated in beeswax for keeping. Usually used as a garnish, the botargo is sliced thinly or grated over the top of dishes to enhance their earthy flavor.

In Italy, Botargo is well known in Sicilian and Sardinian cuisines, where its culinary properties can be compared to those of dry anchovies, although it is a lot more expensive. Botargo is sometimes served with lemon juice as an appetizer or shaved into pasta dishes. In Lebanon it is served sliced, where each slice is covered with a piece of raw garlic and then immersed in olive oil to be later eaten with flat bread.

Right here in the heart of NYC’s Lower East Side at Inoteca on Rivington and Ludlow they are using Botarga in the most deletable way! Their Truffle Egg Toast dish that is topped with grated Botargo is to die for, as the pungent flavors sing in harmony with the earthy undertones of proteins from sea and land collide on the palate. Bravo to this dish and its amazing array of goodness that is an easy sell anytime of day. Hooray for the old tradition of making Botarga and for the new chefs with the awareness of keeping these good things alive!

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