Spaghetti con cavolfiore, acciughe e bottarga di mugine — (aka “spaghetti with cauliflower, anchovy and mullet bottarga”)
For the breadcrumbs (optional):
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 anchovy fillet
a scant pinch of salt
a scant pinch of red pepper chile flakes
3 tablespoons grated mullet bottarga
Bottarga are dried fish eggs, either from tuna (bottarga di tonno), mullet (bottarga di mugine) or swordfish. It can come as a powder (pre-grated), or in blocks. The latter is considerably more expensive, yet it pays for itself after the first use as a little goes a long way.
Warm oil in a skillet over medium heat, add anchovy fillet. Mash with the back of a wooden spoon until anchovy has disintegrated. Add breadcrumbs, salt and chile flakes. Toast crumbs until they become golden brown, about 2-3 minutes. Some of the crumbs will absorb the anchovy-infused oil. This is perfectly fine, and is intended to be that way. Once the crumbs have become golden brown, remove from heat and stir in the bottarga. Prolonged exposure to heat will cause the bottarga to burn and become bitter which is why I’ve opted to add them right at the end of cooking.
For the spaghetti above, I added 3 tablespoons of crumbs to the spaghetti prior to service. Diners can add more crumbs if they wish, as they would cheese, but you really don’t need too much more in my opinion.