The roe sack is extracted from the fish, salted, then let stand for a few weeks, during which time it is pressed by hand both to flatten it and to remove any air pockets. Then it is pressed between planks, then dried in the sun for one to two months.
You can buy a slab of it, which usually comes vacuum packed in plastic, or you can buy it in glass bottles already ground into a powder. You can also find it sometimes in bottles packed in olive oil.
The taste of Bottarga made from Tuna is stronger than that made from the Grey Mullet. The Grey Mullet Bottarga is harder to find.
To use the slab form, grate it or chop up a small slice of it. Use it to garnish salads or pasta. Use sparingly; it has a very fishy and salty taste, so a little goes a long way.
Store in fridge.
The Egyptians preserved mullet roe in large, dried cakes.
The Byzantines made Bottarga and called it “botargo.”
Possibly from the Arabic word “bitârikha”, which itself was influenced by the Greek word “tarijos” meaning salted meat or fish. Sicily and Sardinia were both under Greek and Arab influence at various points in their history.