no, i’m not done posting about taiwan yet. but we’ll have a brief french interlude soon, i promise. but first: i’ve always contended that italy and china/taiwan are remarkably similar, what with the native inhabitants’ aversion to forming queues, their love of noodles, their boisterousness/raucousness/expressiveness (depending where your sympathies lie and what kind of situation you’re in at the time), and so much else besides. here’s another similarity, which i first discovered walking through the old village of lukang: taiwanese people also make
bottarga. it never occurred to me that asians would also be into curing and drying mullet roe, but with their penchant for dehydrating anything remotely edible, i guess it should have been a foregone conclusion. they consume it in a different way, but it looks the same, even up close:
oddly, my mother never mentioned the connection when we visited sicily last year and picked up some bottarga there, but i think that’s because we got some made from tuna roe, which is so huge that it doesn’t really look anything like this. when i mentioned the bottarga to her this time, she said, oh, you’re talking about oh hi ji’. an oh hi being one of these guys:
or grey mullet. mom pointed these out to me at the douliou day market. they’ve already been divested of their ji’, or eggs. while in italy, bottarga is usually grated or sliced and used more as a condiment for pasta or maybe celery salad, in taiwan, they like to slice it fairly thin width-wise, stick it in the toaster oven with some kind of garnish (scallions and something else i think) and eat it as a snack. they were selling tons of this at the kaohsiung night market.