Poutargue or boutarge in French, botargo in Italian, and tarama in Greek is a caviar made from the salted and dried roe of gray mullet and also tuna. In my opinion, the mullet is much better than the tuna and is the only one I use. The last poutargue I bought was at the airport in Nice, and it came vacuum-packed. The roe, packed in their own skin, have a concentrated taste and are fairly expensive. Some, from Yugoslavia, come packed in red wax, like cheese from Holland, and as a result it is sometimes called "red caviar." When removed from the wax shell, it is ready to be used.
The recipe below is quite good when made with the anchovy sauce and breadcrumbs minus the poutargue, if unavailable. Yet, it is a special treat and a great taste, if you can get it.
Bring a pot of water to a boil for cooking the pasta.
Meanwhile, for the sauce, pour the oil from a 2-ounce can of anchovy fillets into a large glass bowl. Chop the anchovies coarsely. Cook's Note: you should have about 2 tablespoons.
Add the chopped anchovy to the oil in the bowl and an additional 1/4 cup of olive oil, 1 tablespoon chopped garlic, and 3 tablespoons minced fresh chives.
Cook's Note: You will need half a 6-ounce package or 3 ounces.
Take one roe of poutargue and using a vegetable peeler, peel off a dozen or so shavings from the roe to decorate the top of your pasta, and grate the remaining roe through the big holes of a box grater. Set this aside for mixing with the pasta.
Salt the water in the pot, drop 12 ounces fusilli into the boiling water, mix, and cook according to the directions on the package or your own tastes. Cook's Note: I like mine cooked for about 10 minutes, until it just slightly al dente.
Meanwhile, saute 1 cup of 1/4-inch bread pieces in 2 tablespoons of olive oil with a dash each salt and pepper in a skillet until brown and crispy. Set aside.
When the pasta is nearly cooked, place the bowl containing the anchovies into a microwave for about 1 minute to warm it and cook the garlic a little. Reserve about 1/3 cup of the pasta water, and add it to the hot anchovy-garlic mixture. Drain the pasta well, and add it to the bowl along with some salt and pepper and the grated poutargue. Toss carefully, and divide among 4 very hot plates. Sprinkle with the shavings of poutargue, and serve immediately. Garnish at the table with grated Parmesan or Gruyere cheese.
Recipe courtesy of Jacques Pepin