Sardinia to be discovered – Oristano District (4) What makes Cabras’ Bottarga “special”?
As I told in a previous post, Cabras (a nice village near the lagoon where the mullets live) is the main and the original centre of production of “Bottarga” (salted and cured mullet roe).
Here Bottarga has a distinctive flavour due to the particular environmental and climatic conditions (the lagoon water is mixed with the sea water, coming from 5 channels).
The lagoon belongs to the Marine Protected Area of “Sinis Peninsula” and has a wide range of flora and fauna protected species: it has always been rich in fish (eels and mullet abound).
The eggs of the mullets are processed first covering them with salt and then pressed and exposed to the air for 1 or 2 months for drying. The process is still handmade.
The municipality of Cabras each year (in August) organizes the “bottarga festival”, with the objective to promote the knowledge and the culture of this product among the holidaymakers and to show the different local dishes prepared with it.
During the festival there are many stands where you can taste and buy Bottarga: they offer the product prepared in many traditional ways (…as it has born as a dish eaten by fishermen during their days spent in the sea its use is very basic and genuine and the recipes very simple).
Bottarga can be eaten as an appetizer simply sliced thinly (just like a thin slice of salami) with olive oil and bread and grated (as you would with a piece of Parmesan) in a wide range of starters and main courses, such as pasta, eggs, vegetables or salads.
Trust me: a little quantity of grated Bottarga with “spaghetti aglio e olio (garlic and oil)” instantly transports you to the seaside. More often it is added to spaghetti and clam sauce.
If you go to Sardinia I think that this represents the best souvenir you can buy (given the quality here prices are more convenient).
Abroad Bottarga can be bought over the internet or in shops/supermarkets specializing in Italian food or fish food or if you want, made at home (like many Sardinians do).
You can buy a single piece of bottarga or a jar of powdered bottarga. I strongly recommend the fist one because pre-grating reduces the flavour. In addition consider that there are no problems in keeping it: left-over can be wrapped and refrigerated or frozen (it will keep for months).
For deeper details get in touch with me, I’ll be happy to answer your questions.