Specialty Vendors at the Fulton Fish Market: Bottarga Dell'Isola

Pictured above: Bottarga Dell'Isola founder Marc Slakmon

The sea is home to many of life’s delicacies. One of the most unique products of human ingenuity and creativity is Bottarga. Bottarga is an Italian term for the salted, pressed and dried sac of roe, commonly from the mullet fish. A delicacy, Bottarga is sought around the world in countries such as Australia, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Brazil and those around the Mediterranean Sea.

Bottarga Dell’Isola is the passion of Marc Slakmon who learned to make it from his Tunisian grandmother. She taught him the art of curing and preparing this delicacy which is steadily increasing in popularity. Bottarga Dell’Isola exclusively uses the roe of the grey mullet. Marc has been making small batches in his own kitchen for his family and friends and has since decided to share his passion for this unique delicacy with the world.

Pictured above: Bottarga Dell'Isola founder Marc Slakmon and fisherman Eddie Barnhill

Grey Mullet is abundant along the Florida coastline and also considered one of the best possible locations to source. When on the hunt for the perfect source of Grey Mullet, Marc searched in the state of Florida where the waters are fertile with high quality fish. He found a partnership instead with fisherman Eddie Barnhill near Fort Meyers, Florida. Bottarga Dell’Isola is a unique producer of Bottarga in that the fishing, preparing, and packaging is done all under one roof, ensuring excellent quality control and product.

Originally from Tunis, Tunisia, Marc’s family emigrated and settled in Montreal, Canada in 1957. Throughout his youth, he visited fish markets and purchased the mullet’s roe sac. The fishmongers often discarded the roe sac, but to Marc the roe was ‘Poor Man’s Caviar’.

In countries where refrigeration is not always available, curing is a popular way to preserve food. When fishing for mullet, the roe would be cut out, salted and dried on rooftops. While living in Montreal, Marc learned to prepare mullet roe from his grandmothers who would cure the roe and lay it around their home to dry.

""My favorite way to eat Bottarga is sliced thinly with olive oil and bread! It can also be grated over simple pasta dishes with garlic, chile pepper flakes and olive oil. It can add wonderful flavor to salads, steak tartar and even eggs!" " - Marc Slakmon

The curing process; many trays of delicious, high quality Grey Mullet roe lay salted and drying to achieve the perfect result. Bottarga brings an umami rich flavor when cooked with or grated onto dishes. Umami translates to 'deliciousness' in Japanese.

The finished product. Once the roe has cured to perfection it is the perfect consistency for slicing and grating. It's rich flavor is briny and with the combination of care and tradition, Marc Slakmon has created a product that can accompany the simplest of dishes to the most complex gourmet fare.

"I went to Eataly one day to the fish department. I saw that they sold Bottarga. I was talking to the fish guy, Peter Molinari, who turned out to be the buyer for all the fish and meats. I told him that I make Bottarga and told him my story. He told me to start my own company, I said I would if he would buy my product." - Marc Slakmon