An Italian term for cured roe from gray or silver mullet or tuna that's used throughout the Mediterranean region. It's also known as Mediterranean caviar and, in France, boutargue. The roe sacs are salted, massaged to eliminate air pockets, pressed and formed and then sun-dried for several weeks. Bottarga is sometimes coated in beeswax to preserve it. The resulting dry block is grated, ground or sliced and used as a seasoning on pasta and other dishes. Bottarga is also served with olive oil and lemon or lime juice as an appetizer. In Sicily the version made from tuna roe is called uovo di tonno. The Japanese karasumi, made with mullet roe, is similar to bottarga.
From The Food Lover's Companion, Fourth edition by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst. Copyright © 2007, 2001, 1995, 1990 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.