Monday, 24 January 2011


Sorry if I'm sounding a bit freaked-out today, it's just that I went to see Black Swan last night. People suggested that it was scary but I thought "Please, how scary can a film be about ballerinas?!?!"

Incredibly fucking scary, it turns out. I kept waking up running with sweat having seen, in my nightmare, Natalie Portman creeping round the side of my bedroom door in a black tutu. Brrrrrr.

Anyway, today is about Bottarga. Bottarga, if you don't know, (and there's no reason why you should), is the dried roe of grey mullet that tastes strong and smoky and fishy. You can also get tuna bottarga, but obviously none of you buy tuna in any form these days because it's so monstrously ethically unsound.

Bottarga is sold vacuum-packed and looks like this:

and it's most commonly eaten grated onto linguine, because people in Italy and Sardinia (the country bottarga is usually associated with) don't have much imagination.

"Hmmm, what is? New fishy thing. Let's put it on.... pasta!!"

It's not that easy to get hold of. Even in London, I've only seen it in Panzer's, in St John's Wood or in Selfridges Food Hall. But it's worth poking around in your local fishmonger or deli snazzhole, if such a thing exists round your way, to see if you can source some.

People tend to bang on about how expensive it is, but it's not really; 70g, which will set you back about £10, is enough, served on pasta, for about 15 people.

It's best, to my mind, done as a rather chic and exotic starter. Some people saute it with chilli, which I think is a bit of a shame as the chilli takes over. But do do that if you want to.

The way I did it the other night was like this:

1 Allow 50g of linguine per person and when cooked dress with salt and good olive oil.

2 Turn out onto a pre-heated serving dish and grate over a generous amount of bottarga. You really do just grate it, with a grater, like this:

You can also shave a few bits off, too.

Then sprinkle over chopped flat-leaf parsley and lemon juice if you want. If you really want to taste the fishiness of the bottarga, leave out the lemon as it can overpower it.


  1. Black Swan terrified me too. The only seats left were right at the right as well, so the whole time I was staring up, with Natalie going mental right in my face. Awful, just awful.

  2. Oh dear...I am going to see it tonight...should I change my tickets?

    You can also have bottarga with cherry tomatoes and capers. It is not too cheap even in Italy but quite easy to find. Enjoy!

  3. Black Swan was definitely scary, but you know what I liked about it? How you actually felt like the ballerinas' bones were all about to break if anyone looked at them the wrong way. That's what I've always thought ballerinas look like, but whenever I said so people always looked at me like I was a bit off. So now that it's in a movie, I've been validated at last.