Pasta con la Bottarga – Mediterranean flavors marriage

Pasta con la Bottarga
Photo ©

Pasta con la Bottarga

Before you start to tell us that you don’t like fishy flavors, hear us out. We have served this dish to people who didn’t even realize they were eating fish. This pasta dish is a true marriage of Mediterranean flavors and it’s the bottarga that brings them all together, with its umami flavor. So umami.

Nota bene: you can make it now and eat it later! One reason we love this recipe and use it as a go-to dish for guests is that you can stop after step 3, put it in the fridge, and start with step 4 the next day. Just make sure to let the sauce return to room temperature.

Originally published on April 18, 2017, by

Bottarga from Cabras – AdobeStock_320501572
Pasta con la Bottarga: Ingredients

Serves 4-5 people:
1 bag Spaghetti Faella (or Linguine)
1/2 Mullet Bottarga
Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Sardegna, lots kinds of 2 lemons, zested
Juice of 1 lemon
1 small clove of garlic, minced
1 healthy handful of Salted Capers, rinsed
1 bunch of parsley, finely chopped
Chili pepper, to taste
Sea salt

Pasta con la Bottarga: Preparation
  1. Peel away the outer layer and thinly slice the bottarga with a knife (paper thin!).
  2. In a bowl, mix bottarga, EVOO, capers, and lemon juice + zest. Add enough EVOO so that it covers all the ingredients.
  3. Add the garlic, parsley, and chili pepper, mix well.
  4. Cook the pasta in salted boiling water until al dente.
  5. When you drain the pasta SAVE some of the pasta water!
  6. Vigorously mix pasta and sauce together, adding the cooking water if needed, a spoonful at a time, until it becomes creamy. You can also add more EVOO, a splash at a time, to increase creaminess.
Cabras – AdobeStock_348243972
Oro di Cabras – Mullet Bottarga

Oro di Cabras, the Mullet Bottarga the Romans Would Choose!

The name Bottarga comes from the Arabic “Bottarikh” which means salted fish eggs. In fact, it is a product of ancient origins. The Mullet bottarga fished in the ponds of Cabras in Sardegna was loved by the Phoenicians and the Romans, who used it in large quantities.

Gustiamo’s Mullet Bottarga comes from the same place in Sardegna, Cabras (left); it is made with the same methods: the egg roe of the mullet is cleaned, salted, pressed, dried naturally on wood planks from 15 to 30 days, depending on the weather (during the drying process, the pieces of bottarga are turned every 4-5 hours).

Cabras, on the other hand, do the whole process by hand and with the passion of a tradition passed down for generations. A Cooperative of Fishermen, the Manca Brothers, 6 brothers lead by Mario Manca, the eldest, make Gustiamo’s Mullet Bottarga. Manca’s Bottarga arrives vacuum packed; they call it “Oro di Cabras,” Gold of Cabras.

I asked Mario what the difference is with the bottarga you see in the stores, the one covered with a thick layer of wax. Mario told me that it is a bottarga of inferior quality, covered with wax because it is fresh and not dried (when dried, bottarga loses at least 45% of its weight); it tastes like raw paste…

If the Romans came back, they would certainly choose the “Oro di Cabras” bottarga by Fratelli Manca, the real thing! But, unfortunately, in America, you can find Bottarga di Cabras only @ Gustiamo, Italy’s Best Foods!

Enrico Massetti was born in Milan, Italy.
Now he lives in Washington, DC, USA.
Still, he regularly visits his hometown
and enjoys going around all the places in his home country
especially those he can reach by public transportation.

Enrico loves writing guide books on travel in Italy
to help his friends that go to Italy to visit
and enjoy his old home country.
He also publishes books on the Argentine tango dance.

You can reach Enrico at