About Bottarga

Bottarga---salted and dried fish roe has a long history in the Mediterranean world. The Messolonghi Lagoons in Greece are the source of the only bottarga recognized by the European Union with a protected designation of origin or PDO. Tagaras Collective is very honored to collaborate with the PDO certified Renaissance Fishermen's Cooperative to import their bottarga into the US.

saffron The Messolonghi-Etoliko lagoon complex is a national park under the protection of the Greek government and encompasses the deltas of the Acheloos and Evinos Rivers. These lagoons are amongst the largest in the European Mediterranean and provide an important habitat for a vast array of birds and other flora and fauna. This rich environment with its mix of salt and fresh water provides the fish of the lagoon with their own special flavor.

For centuries, the fisherman of Messolonghi have utilized barrier traps in the lagoons to gather fish. They camped in traditional straw houses built on stilts in the lagoon known as pelades so that they could closely monitor the gates to the barriers during fishing season. They made bottarga mostly for their own consumption or as a special gift. The members of the Renaissance Fishermen's Cooperative continue to live and fish in the same time honored way as previous generations, but they have recently organized to make their production of bottarga a PDO certified commercial venture.

Starting in May, flathead grey mullet begin to swim deep into the lagoons to spawn, drawn by warmer plankton rich waters. The members of the Renaissance Cooperative begin to tend the gates to their barriers around the clock in hopes of maximizing their haul of fish for the season. The fish continue to live and feed within the barriers until late August when the roe sacks of the female fish are at their prime and production of bottarga begins.

The roe sacks of the mullet must be carefully removed to protect their delicate membranes. They are then gently massaged by hand and washed before spending a few hours in sea salt from the lagoon. The roe is then placed on racks for a few weeks of carefully tended drying so that it maintains an ideal texture and amber color. When the drying process is complete, the sacks are dipped in melted beeswax to preserve freshness.

The Renaissance Fishermen's Cooperative's adherence to centuries old artisanal techniques combined with the special qualities of the fish of the Messolonghi lagoon produce a bottarga of unsurpassed flavor with a delicate brininess. The Cooperative produces only 350 to 400 pieces per season making this a rare and special delicacy.