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Bottarga, known by various names in different cultures, has a rich history dating back to ancient times. It is the salted and dried roe sac of a fish, typically a grey mullet. This delicacy has made its way into the culinary traditions of many countries, including Japan, Korea, Greece, Italy, and the United States.

Bottarga mullet roe, regardless of its name, is a versatile product. It can be enjoyed in various ways: grated over vegetables, pasta, starches, or grains or simply sliced thin and seasoned with salt, lemon, and oil.

In this guide, we will explore the history of mullet bottarga, where to purchase it, techniques to cut and shave it, as well as how to best use and store it.

A Brief History of Bottarga

The preservation technique for fish roe sacs, which eventually became bottarga, is believed to have originated with the Phoenicians. The practice then spread to Egypt, where evidence of it can be found in a mural dating back to the 10th century BCE. The Arabic word "butarkhah" gave rise to the Italian name "bottarga," but its origins may have ties to Byzantium and ancient Greece as well. Over time, bottarga made its way along the Silk Road, reaching the Far East and the West.

cured mullet roe

Where to Buy Bottarga?

Bottarga Di Muggine is a specialty item that can be found in Italian specialty stores or purchased online. Eataly and other Italian specialty shops in New York City and Miami often carry bottarga. It is advised not to buy pre-grated bottarga, as it is best to grate it fresh.

Methods to Cut and Shave Bottarga

When working with bottarga, it is preferable to remove the papery membrane called the pellicle, as it can be chewy. Peel off only what you intend to use, similar to certain salami casings. Once peeled, you can grate or crumble cured mullet roe as a finishing ingredient or enjoy it on its own in thin slices with olive oil, salt, and lemon. Grated Bottarga Di Muggine can be used in a variety of cuisines and pairs well with pasta, eggs, rice, and other dishes.

bottarga mullet roe

How to Use and Store Bottarga

Bottarga has a long shelf life and can be kept tightly wrapped in plastic in the refrigerator for months. It is excellent for grating over pasta, boiled eggs, soft-scrambled eggs, or steamed rice. It can also be used as a topping for dishes like tamago kaki gohan or fried rice. However, it is best to avoid cooking bottarga to preserve its delicate flavor and high cost.

More Tips to Enjoy Dried Mullet Roe by Tita Italia

  • Choose quality bottarga from reputable suppliers like Tita Italia.
  • Store the bottarga in a cool, dark place, tightly sealed to maintain freshness.
  • Use a fine grater or microplane to grate the bottarga just before serving.
  • Pair bottarga with pasta, salads, seafood, and risotto for enhanced flavors.
  • Start with small amounts of bottarga and adjust to taste.
  • Get creative by using bottarga in unexpected dishes like avocado toast or deviled eggs.
  • Appreciate dried mullet roe's history and cultural significance as you indulge in its flavors.

Enjoy the journey of exploring dried mullet roe, elevating your culinary creations with its unique richness.

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