Food – (weekend recipes)

Weekend recipe – Spaghetti with Bottarga di Muggine

The Mediterranean Sea. Its scent changes so from place to place. On the Central Adriatic coast it’s sweet and intense, brings an uncontainable joy on a sunny day. Cross over to the East, and in Croatia it assumes a slightly less domesticated, more metallic flavor – yet the sweetness and giddy pleasure contained therein remain. Closer to Turkey the scent is heavier, denser, offering a lush undertone to accompany the faint echoes of melancholy that are part of the region.
You can circle the whole of that sea and in every place the oder both above and below the waves changes, ever so slightly, from beach to beach, hilltop to hilltop, dive to dive. Yet there’s something consistent about those different scents, that changing flavor, particularly below the water. Bottarga di Muggine, (Cured Gray Millet Roe,)  might be as close as you can get to capturing that something.
Its flavor, to, changes – but in time, instead of place. You put a sliver in your mouth and initially it’s almost unpleasant, the first instant seeming a bit like a waxy mouthful of the Mediterranean but before that happens the flavor opens up, becomes rich and textured and contained just enough. There’s metal, yes, but sweetness, fish and even a hint of fruit. But no one aspect is dominant, and the growing myriad of flavors somehow remain separate. So all at the same time you’re on the Adriatic coast on a sunny day, but also diving in Sardinia, taking in the sun on a Turkish beach, riding in a storm off the Southern French coast.

Maybe the best way to appreciate what an absolutely delightful flavor Bottarga di Muggine has is with a simple pasta, by itself or as I like it, lightly flavored with red garlic and its texture fortified with a bit of zucchini flower or small, firm zucchini, or sting beans, ecc.. Flavor some oil on low heat with the crushed garlic, remove, add the rough chopped flowers when the pasta is no more than a couple minutes from being done very al dente. Drain the pasta, keeping a little of the water from the pasta pot, and transfer the spaghetti to toss and finish its cooking – adding a little water as necessary, along with a little bit of the grated bottarga to flavor the oil further. Plate well using a soup ladle if you have to keep the noodles in a tight bundle and add the the rest of the grated and thinly sliced bottarga over top, sprinkle with oil…then enjoy your dive off the Italian coast.

200 grams of Rummo spaghetti
1 brined mullet egg sack
ev olive oil
2 handfuls of zucchini flowers
2 cloves of red garlic
serves 2

see above. Grate some of one of the two egg sacks, about a third, and transparently thin slice the rest (use a mandolin if you don’t have a good knife or have trouble slicing so thin.)

link – Rummo pasta:


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