Salted and dried fish roe may not to be the most popular food item in the U.S. but, for some (Sardinians, or Japanese for example), it is a delicacy. I was quite surprised to learn that Japanese “Karasumi 唐墨” was actually an import from Europe through Nagasaki 長崎 during the time Japan was mostly closed to foreign trade except for “Dejima 出島” in Nagasaki. The European counterparts are called “Bottarga” or “Botargo” and are especially well known in Sardinia. Since we cannot get karasumi here in the US easily, we were interested in getting “Bottarga” from Sardinia instead. After several failed attempts trying to get bottarga from local Italian gourmet food stores, we resorted to the Internet. We finally got Sardinian bottarga made by L’Oro di Cabras from Gray Mullet roe sold by “Gustiamo” in New York (package pictured below).
It is rather small and much darker colored than typical Japanese karasumi.
First we tried it in Japanese style with thin slices of daikon (shown above).
This one has a stronger flavor (or you could call it “fishy”) than the Japanese variety. It is also saltier than the karasumi we got from Sushi Taro Osechi. We tried it with red wine and it did not go well so we switched to cold sake which was much better. Albeit this is a good nibbling snack for sake, this is definitely an acquired taste and I have to admit, karasumi tastes better to me.