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In The Family
What Is Bottarga?

If you like caviar, try this brick of dried salted fish eggs.

Bottarga—the Italian name for dried, cured roe—is a lot like sausage. It’s intensely seasoned and savory, so a little shaving on your pasta or salad goes a long way.

It’s popular around the world, from Norway to Senegal. And it’s stuffed in a tube-shaped body part before getting hung to cure and draw out moisture. Bottarga is mainly made from bluefin tuna and grey mullet eggs, which are pulled from the fish and mixed with enough salt to preserve them.

Grey mullets carry their eggs in long sacs, which, like pig intestines, are handy containers for cured proteins. So once the eggs are mixed, they’re stuffed in the egg sacs, massaged to draw out air bubbles, and aged for days or weeks until the package is as firm as a brick. From there, the bottarga might get a coating of beeswax for additional protection, but it’s otherwise ready for grating anywhere you want a briny burst of ocean flavor.

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Max Falkowitz

Max Falkowitz is a food and travel writer for The New York Times, Saveur, GQ, New York magazine’s Grub Street, and other outlets. He’s also the coauthor of The Dumpling Galaxy Cookbook with Helen You.