Pasta con la Bottarga_ is about as simple as pastas get, consisting of pasta (usually spaghetti), grated bottarga and olive oil. Yet for such a meager amount of effort, you’ll be treated to a decadent pasta roaring with umami and flavours of the sea. In this version, I’ve added some freshly grated wasabi to balance out the richness and give it a slight kick at the end.
Once called, the poor man’s caviar, bottarga carries a US price tag of about $90 a pound, clearly indicating that times have changed. Bottarga is the roe sac of mullet or tuna, that’s been dried and cured in sea salt. While it’s a specialty of the Sardinia region of Italy, it goes by many names in countries all along the Mediterranean. Mine came from a Spanish grocer in Manhattan and was labeled huevos de mújol or “mullet eggs”
Due to the low water content and high fat content, it has a slightly waxy texture and a very rich taste filled with flavour enhancing umami. It’s not exactly fishy, but it does taste strongly of the sea. If you’re wondering why there are clumps of bottarga in the photo, it’s because I made the mistake of mixing the olive oil and bottarga together before adding the pasta. Sprinkling it in should avoid this problem.
- Boil the pasta according to the package directions in well salted water.
- Put the cherry tomatoes onto a piece of foil, poking each tomato with a toothpick to prevent them from exploding. Put the tomatoes and foil on the upper oven rack and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Broil until the tomatoes have wrinkled up and the tops are lightly browned.
- Slice a few thin slices off the bottarga and grate the rest into a small container. Grate the wasabi into a separate large bowl. Add 3 Tbs of olive oil to the wasabi along with the minced parsley and roasted tomatoes.
- When the pasta is done, drain and toss with the olive oil mixture to coat. Sprinkle in the grated bottarga and toss to coat evenly. Salt and pepper to taste and serve with a few slices of bottarga on top.