Karasumi (or bottarga) is salted and dried mullet roe. It comes in two sacks and are hard, like a candy bar. Its deep, oceany, salty flavor is reminiscent of caviar. But the texture is not like caviar, because it's a dense mass of eggs dried in the sun, it is chewy and sticks to the molars of your teeth.
Karasumi is often sliced and eaten with daikon in Japan. Another popular way to eat karasumi (in Italy and Japan) is to grate it over pasta for a luxurious way to dress up spaghetti.
The first time I had karasumi pasta was at one of my favorite Italian restaurants in Tokyo called Diritto. It was literally only two bites but it was unforgettable. Unfortunately I have never had bottarga pasta in Italy, but I am sure that would be really unbelievable too.
Karasumi is a delicacy in Japan. A pair of karasumi sacs from Japan can cost up to $300. Taiwanese karasumi is much cheaper so if you worked the x-ray scanner on a returning flight from Taiwan at Narita airport, one would surely see lots of karasumi passing through.
My husband brought back some karasumi from his last trip to Japan. We ate the first half sliced with daikon slices. We reserved the other half for karasumi pasta. The simplicity of the ingredients in this dish really highlight the taste of the karasumi and adding a green element creates a contrast that is similar to the karasumi vs. daikon effect.
1 box (1 lb) of spaghetti
1 sac of karasumi, grated
1/2 cup of Parmigiano-Reggiano grated
Handful of arugula (or mizuna)
4 cloves garlic
1 dried chili pepper, seeds removed, cut in half
6 tbsp EVOO
3 tbsp unsalted butter
1. Prepare a large of pot of water for the pasta.
2. While you wait for the water to boil, grate the karasumi.
3. Add pasta to boiling pot of water and cook.
4. While you wait for the water to boil, heat EVOO on medium-high in a small sauce pan. Once the oil heats up, add crushed garlic and chili pepper to the pan. Cook until the garlic turns light brown. Turn off heat. Once the pasta is done boiling, strain.
5. In the pot you had the pasta in, melt butter until it smells slightly toasty and turn off heat. Add pasta back in. Mix.
6. Add garlic, chili oil to the pot and toss.
7. Add 3/4 of the karasumi to the pot and toss.
8. Serve into individual bowls with tongs.
9. Garnish with Parmigiano-Reggiano, remaining karasumi and arugula. Serve immediately.
The best part of making a luxurious dish at home is being able to eat a generous portion of it.
Paired beautifully with a California chardonnay.