Mullet Bottarga. Ours is brown and smells fishy.

This is our Mullet Bottarga. Doesn’t it look ugly? It does. Very ugly. In fact, this is one of the most difficult products to photograph. However, it’s very delicious!

We are convinced we represent the best and most honest food artisans/producers. And we keep asking them questions. I had a very interesting conversation with Mario Manca, the “Brother in Chief” of the Manca Brothers cooperative that makes our Mullet Bottarga, Oro di Cabras. I called him because a friend/customer of ours mentioned a mullet bottarga she purchased from another vendor. The “other” bottarga, she said, was very pink, soft and didn’t smell very fishy; its Best Before Day was 2018; it arrived packed in ice. Of course I called Mario. He said:

Bottarga drying
Bottarga drying
Gustiamo's Bottarga
Gustiamo’s bottarga

Our bottarga is not pink because it is dried naturally in the sun for 30 days, following a centuries old process. By doing so, bottarga loses its water, becomes a little darker and drier. It smells and tastes fishy, as it is intended. Mario told us that many commercial and industrial companies make bottarga in a faster way (we are told that they might use electrical ovens to dry it in only 2-3 days). By doing so, they are able to make bigger (and pink!) quantities of bottarga which contains more water. According to Mario, “too pink” might not be an indication of a well cured product.

With regard to the Best Before Date, Mario said that “Best Before Day” they give to their bottarga is one year and a half after packaging. They have determined that this is the longest time their bottarga may last without losing its flavor and consistency. He added, that if the bottarga is fresh, storing it for too long might even be harmful. Gustiamo has never shipped bottarga to our customers refrigerated, as our producer had instructed us not to. In fact, since our bottarga is naturally dried in the sun for so long, it can stand several days without refrigeration. When we asked about gel packs, he said that they should not be used, since the added humidity can damage the product.