A true Italian delicacy.
The roe from the grey mullet of Sardinia which is prepared by salting, pressing and drying for up to 6 months in cool well aired rooms.
It is prized for its delicate, fleshy flavour.
To really celebrate this ingredient, slice thinly and eat on some soft bread with a good quality olive oil.
It is also delicious in a simple pasta.
SPAGHETTI WITH BOTTARGA, PRESERVED LEMON AND CHILIES
2½ ounces bottarga
½ preserved lemon
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1-2 hot peppers, thinly sliced, seeds removed, or ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 cup breadcrumbs
1 lb. dried spaghetti
½ cup chopped parsley
Put a large pot of salted water on the stove over high heat. The water should be as salty as the sea.
Remove the thin papery outer membrane covering the bottarga. Using a very sharp knife, cut 16 super thin slices of bottarga and set aside on a plate and cover with plastic wrap. Grate the rest on a fine microplane into a bowl.
Remove the pulp from the lemon, discard any seeds and then chop the pulp finely. Slice the skin into thin strips, then chop crosswise into tiny dice (see picture sequence). Set everything aside until it’s time to toss with the pasta.
In a large sauté pan, heat 4 tablespoons olive oil with the garlic and peppers over medium-low heat until the garlic is tender, about 4 minutes. Pour the garlic, peppers and oil into a bowl.
Increase the heat to medium, add the remaining oil to the pan and when hot, add the breadcrumbs. Cook, tossing constantly, until the crumbs are toasted and golden, a minute or so. Transfer the crumbs to a plate.
When the water is boiling, add the spaghetti and cook, stirring constantly, until the water returns to a boil. Cook until al dente, about 8 minutes, depending on the pasta.
While the spaghetti is cooking, return the garlic, pepper and oil to the sauté pan. Add the grated bottarga and up to 1 cup of pasta water. Swirl it all around until you have a smooth sauce.
Scoop the cooked pasta out of the pot and dump into the pan with the bottarga. Toss well. Add the preserved lemon pulp, the diced lemon skin, the parsley and stir again. Add more pasta water if the mixture is too dry.
Serve immediately in warm bowls, topping with the breadcrumbs and a few slices of bottarga.