A display of bottarga (above)
|Alternative name(s)||Botarga, butàriga|
|Place of origin||Italy|
|Main ingredient(s)||Fish roe|
Botargo (from Occitan botarga [buˈtarɣɔ, buˈtaʀgɔ]), also called bottarga (Italian), butàriga (Sardinian), is a Mediterranean delicacy of cured fish roe origin. It is a product from Italy (P.A.T.), especially in Sardinia (Flathead mullet) and Sicily (Atlantic bluefin tuna). There are variants (with different name) manufactured in other countries of the Mediterranean basin.
Sometimes called the caviar of the South, botargo is the roe pouch of grey mullet, or sometimes tuna and swordfish. It is massaged by hand to eliminate air pockets, then dried and cured in sea salt for a few weeks. The result is a dry hard slab and is sometimes coated in beeswax for preservation purposes. Not all roe is coated in beeswax as some producers simply keep the natural casing of the roe intact. This contains the eggs securely once dried and salted. The curing time can vary depending on producer and the desired texture as well as the preference of the consumer which varies by country.
It is usually used sliced thinly or grated.
In Italy, it is best known in Sicilian and Sardinian cuisine; its culinary properties can be compared to those of dry anchovies, though it is much more expensive. Botargo is often served with lemon juice as an appetizer or used in pasta dishes. In Lebanon it is served sliced, where each slice is covered with a piece of raw garlic and the whole is immersed in olive oil then eaten with flat bread.
The word in most languages comes from the Arabic buṭariḫ بطارخ (attested in 1400), which in turn comes from the Coptic outarakhon, from the Byzantine Greek ᾠοτάριχον < ᾠóν 'egg' + τάριχον 'pickled fish', mentioned (and denounced) by Simeon Seth in the 11th century. The modern Greek name substitutes the modern version αυγό for the ancient word ᾠóν.
In Greece, avgotaraho is produced primarily from the flathead mullet caught in Greek lagoons. The whole mature ovaries are removed from the fish, washed with water, salted with natural sea salt, dried under the sun, and sealed in melted beeswax.
- Karasumi, an East Asian dried mullet roe
- Myeongran, a Korean fermented seafood consisting of mullet roe
- Oxford English Dictionary; Andrew Dalby, Siren Feasts, 1996, ISBN 0-415-11620-1, p.189
- Katselis G.,et al. (2005). Fisheries research 75:138-148
- Agriculture - Quality Policy - (PDO/PGI) Fresh fish, molluscs and crustaceans and products derived therefrom
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