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Spaghetti alla Bottarga

By Vincent Li

Serves 4, as a main course


8 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp crushed red pepper
6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
12 oz spaghetti
¾ cup finely chopped italian parsley
1.5 oz (approximately 40 grams) Sardinian Bottarga di muggine (mullet)
Zest from two small lemons


Bring 6 cups of water to a boil and add 2 tbsp salt. Cook spaghetti until al dente (about 9 minutes). Drain and reserve ¼ cup pasta water.

In a sautee pan, heat olive oil, red pepper, and garlic slices over low heat until just fragrant, about 2 minutes, but do not let burn. Remove from heat.

Add the cooked spaghetti to the oil mixture and add the parsley and 1 tbsp grated bottarga. Toss to coat evenly over medium heat. Add some pasta water if needed. Divide spaghetti into four bowls.

Sprinkle the lemon zest over the spahetti. Shave the remaining bottarga over each bowl and serve immediately.

Bottarga is a Mediterranean delicacy. It is the roe (egg) pouch of certain fish. Originally a product of the pre-refrigeration era, it remains hand-massaged to remove air, then pressed, dried and cured in salt and coated in a thin coat of beeswax. There are two types, one from mullet (Bottarga di Muggine from Sardinia) or tuna (Bottarga di Tonno from Sicily). The Bottarga di Muggine is the more prized of the two, is more delicate, and less fishy in flavor. Mullet from Sardinia are said to be the most flavorsome and are harvested in August and September when the fish are full of roe. Bottarga is best eaten raw, thinly sliced, shaved, grated, or crumbled, almost as a condiment rather than cooking it.

In terms of cancer-fighting properties, bottarga is rich in anti-angiogenic omega-3 fatty acids, specifically EPA and DHA, which are preserved even after long-term storage. Plus, the fat concentration in bottarga is only 3-4% cholesterol, making it lower than a chicken egg.


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