Bottarga either you like or you don’t. As for us, we think it’s unique. The greek version (avgotaraho) is cured grey mullet roe and is produced in the lagoon of Messologi (and nearby Aitoliko) in western Greece, where the romantic poet Lord Byron caught a cold and died in 1824.
The most renowned greek producer is Zafeiris Trikalinos, a man with a vision. The family business started in 1856, when stories about Lord Byron were probably still told by people who witnessed them first hand. Mr. Trikalinos likes to stress the nutritional benefits of his product, as if anyone needs to be convinced to consume it!
Avgotaraho is not cheep, nevertheless in the following recipe we advocate that more is better!
- 500g spaghetti
- 8 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 200g leeks, white and tender green parts, finely chopped
- 3 spring onions, finely chopped
- 1 clove of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
- 2 Tbsp parsley, finely chopped
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 Tbsp lemon juice
- bottarga, 32 very thin slices
- zest of one lemon
Mix the bottarga slices with the lemon juice and 4 table spoons of the olive oil in a small bowl and set aside.
Heat 4 table spoons of the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the chopped leeks and cook for 5 minutes stirring constantly. Add the spring onions and cook for 4-5 more minutes. Add the garlic and stir for one more minute. Add sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Meanwhile, bring a very large saucepan of salted water to the boil. Add the pasta and cook for 8-12 minutes according to the instructions on the package. Save about 1/2 cup of the cooking water. Drain the pasta well and immediately add it to the leek and onion mixture. Add the parsley and the lemon zest. Save about 1/2 cup of the cooking water. Toss to coat the strands of spaghetti. If strands are sticking together and you need to loosen or help the ingredients add some of the reserved pasta water. Stir in half of the bottarga slices with their lemon and olive oil sauce.
Divide between the plates, arrange the remaining bottarga slices on top, season with lots of freshly ground black pepper and serve immediately.