Avgotaraho is Greece’s answer to caviar
Grey Mullet Bottarga – or Greek caviar, is the gemstone of Greek cuisine, a relish that stands out with its elegant taste. Grey Mullet Bottarga or Avgotaraho, is also known as “the gold of the lagoons”, an appellative it owes to its color but also the high price tag attached to it. Avgotaraho is considered to be one of the most savory dishes, having a unique and delicate flavor and distinguished aroma. It is a high quality product with great nutritional value and a rich source of Omega-3-fatty acids, which reinforce body health by having a beneficial effect on the cardiovascular system and boosting the immune system.
The dried fish roe is a delicacy found in many countries, such as Italy (where it is called Bottarga), France (where it is called Poutargue), Spain (where it is called Bottarga), the Arab countries (where it is called Batarekh) and Japan (where it is called Karasumi).
Yet, the Greek Avgotaraho distinguishes itself from the other known products.
It is produced from the eggs of the female flathead mullet indigenous to Greek lagoons.
The best quality is found in the Mesolongi-Etoliko Lagoons, and Avgotaraho from this area has been granted the “protected designation of origin” (PDO), one of only five seafood products with a PDO.
Avgotaraho has been recognized by top chefs as a food product of outstanding quality. The cured Grey Mullet roe has been considered a dainty since the age of the Pharaohs, and it was an essential part of the ancient Greek diet.
Its value was also known in Byzantine times, and while the technique of preserving fish is thought to be the legacy of the Byzantines, it actually goes farther back to the ancient Greek times. Some historical sources indicate that this technique was introduced by the Phoenicians in the Mediterranean region. Grey Mullet Bottarga was one of the main goods traded in the period of the Ottoman rule, during which time it also became known in Europe.
This Avgotaraho is harvested in its purest form from the roe sacks of the mullet fish.
The roe sacks are removed carefully from the mullet, washed and salted. The salted sacks are set into special casts, with a rectangular block shape, which allow the roe to air dry. It is very important to follow the correct drying procedures, since it helps the roe to obtain its smooth moisturized texture and honey color. Avgotaraho is available on the market in a wax coating. The wax coating is to prevent oxidation and preserve the nutritional value of the roe as well as its moisture.
Cooking or Serving Suggestion
Prior to serving the Grey Mullet Bottarga, its protecting wax coating has to be removed. It is a great appetizer, easy to prepare and one that will make quite a taste impression. Cut into thin slices, this dainty food can be enjoyed with a salad of a variety of fresh green vegetables; with pasta but also on its own, with a slice of toasted brown bread.
Another snack variety would be to spread soft cheese on a slice of brown bread, top it with slices of cucumber and crown it with 2 – 3 very thin slices of Grey Mullet Bottarga and garnish with capers or slices of a boiled egg.
Recipe- Spaghetti with red chilli and Bottarga
-8 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
– ½ botargo bar, in room temperature
– 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
– tablespoon red chilli flakes
– 2 teaspoons lemon zest
– 2 handfuls (1/2 cup) flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
– Freshly ground pepper
Bring plenty of lightly salted water to the boil and cook the pasta according to package instructions.
Drain and bring pasta back to the saucepan, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and mix.
Meanwhile, cut the Bottarga into thin slices.
Heat the remaining olive oil in a deep saucepan and gently sauté the garlic and the crushed red pepper. Set aside to cool. Place lemon zest and spaghetti in the pan and mix well.
Sprinkle with the parsley, scatter the botargo slices and season with pepper.