• Can our judges taste bottarga whilst blindfolded? (The Chefs' Line)
Can the judges of The Chef's Line recognise bottarga in a blind taste test? And what is bottarga, anyway?
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3 Aug 2018 - 11:51 AM  UPDATED 10 Jan 2019 - 2:13 PM

From Russian caviar to Japanese tarako, fish roe has been revered in many cultures as a special addition to dishes. Sacs of roe are usually salted for preservation, and then either marinated with other ingredients or hung and dried. 

Bottarga falls into the latter category. Grey mullet roe (or sometimes, bluefin tuna roe!) are cured and dried, till the sacs are stiff, which allows it to be sliced or grated. Add it to a simple buttered pasta, enjoy it simply on a good slice of bread with a squeeze of lemon and drizzle of olive oil, or even blend it into your Caesar salad dressing in place of anchovies - there's no question that this Italian ingredient can add a touch of the sea to whatever you enjoy eating. 

So how did our judges do in the bottarga blind taste-test? 

Can our judges taste bottarga whilst blindfolded?

[Melissa] Ah, yep. I got this one.

[Dan] I got this one! I know exactly what this is.

[Melissa] Yep, same.

[Mark] Taste fishy. 

Our judges make their best guess? Will any of it be 'bottarga'?

[Mark] I'm just going to write 'fishy'. (Chews some more) Oh, that's horrible

[Melissa] It's delicious, I love it. 

The judges make their guesses. Mark looks incredibly unsure...

(Which cuisine week do you think it's from?)

[Dan] Italian!

[Melissa] Italiano!

(So you've had it before?)

[Melissa] Totally. Giovanni Pilu makes some of the best Australian bottarga, ever! 

(What would you use it in?)

[Melissa] Microplaned over some pasta, LOTS OF BUTTER. Lots of olive oil!

Bottarga is best grated over anything you'd like to add a bit of salty fishy flavour to.

[Dan] It's actually very common in Taiwan. Taiwan also...

[Melissa] Cured mullet roe!

[Dan] Yeah, and Japan. It's most commonly used on pasta...

[Melissa] Scrambled eggs...

[Dan] But you can pretty much put it on anything to add a bit of saltiness and fishiness and umami...

[Mark] It's got that spicy, fishy flavour. 

Have we got your attention and your tastebuds? The Chefs’ Line premieres Monday 6 August, 6pm weeknights, on SBS followed by an encore screening at 9.30pm on SBS Food Network. Episodes will be available after broadcast via SBS On DemandJoin the conversation #TheChefsLine on Instagram @sbsfood, Facebook @SBSFood  and Twitter @SBS_Food. Check out sbs.com.au/thechefsline for episode guides, cuisine lowdowns, recipes and more! 

Get your mullet on
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