It’s hard to believe it’s been two weeks since my last post. During that time, I took part in a weekend that included roasting a whole pig at a ranch in Sonoma were there was no cell reception or Internet access (gasp!). I cooked and photographed food for two cookbooks. And I’ve been floating between New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Despite a somewhat chaotic schedule, I managed to find some time to literally toss together this delicious karasumi pasta.
Karasumi is the Japanese equivalent of Bottarga. It’s made by curing the roe sac of mullet in salt over the span of a couple weeks. This dries out the roe, intensifying it’s flavors while preserving it. Back in the day, it was even thought of as poor man’s caviar. Once cured, it’s briny, and full of umami with a waxy texture that clings to your teeth.
Karasumi makes for a terrific canape and is consumed around the world with various accompaniments such as olive oil, garlic, and lemon. My favorite way of having it is sandwiched between two thin slices of daikon radish. The crisp peppery radish makes for the perfect foil to wrap up the salty amber slivers of shaved karasumi. It’s a combo that goes great with a glass of your favorite alcoholic beverage, but I wanted to turn these flavors into more than just a tapa.
Drawing some inspiration from the Sardinian classic, Spaghetti alla Bottarga, I decided to turn my karasumi daikon canape into a pasta. Rather than slicing the daikon, I grated it, which helps it incorporate into the pasta better. Since the daikon was relatively young and came with a beautiful green tuft of greens on top, sauteed them in olive oil and tossed them along with the pasta and karasumi.
It’s a rich decadent pasta that’s balanced out with a peppery sweetness coming from the grated daikon and a just a hint of bitterness from the daikon greens. If you can’t find young daikon with greens still attached, watercress would make a great substitute.
Karasumi and Daikon Pasta
8 ounces dried pasta such as spagetti or linguine
3 tablespoons olive oil
leaves of 1 small daikon radish chopped
1/3 cup grated daikon radish with extra juice strained out
1 sac of Karasumi or Bottarga grated on a Microplane (reserve a little to top the pasta with)
Boil the pasta in well salted water for slightly less than the package recommends (my pasta said 11 minutes, I cooked it for 10).
After draining the pasta, put the hot pot back on the stove and add the olive oil. Add the daikon leaves and quickly saute. Add the pasta, then stir fry to coat with oil. Add the grated daikon and Karasumi and toss to distribute evenly, then plate immediately. Top with the reserved grated karasumi and serve immediately.