Spaghettini al caviale di salmone (Thin Spaghetti with Salmon Roe)

Spaghettini al caviale di salmone

Elegant cooking doesn’t need to mean complicated. Here’s a pasta dish that you can whip up in the time it takes for the water to come to a boil and the pasta to cook—yet it is fancy enough for the most important or better yet, intimate of dinners: thin spaghetti dressed with a creamy shallot wine reduction, enriched with cream and laced with salmon roe. The flavors are incredible and the look impressive. What’s not to like? It’s a perfect first course for a cenone di san Silvestro, the traditional meatless New Year’s Eve dinner, or for an intimate Valentine’s Day dinner for two. But it’s very nice eaten al fresco in the late Spring or Summer or, really, any time of year.

The original version of this dish is made with ‘real’ caviar, the kind from sturgeon that cost a small fortune. If you have deep pockets, it’s fabulous. But this version, made with salmon roe, is just as delicious and costs only a fraction of the price, although it’s still not exactly cheap, which makes it a good choice for a dinner for two. If you want to dress this dish up even more, use a thin egg pasta like tagliolini. It is also fine with fettuccine, or other long dry pasta like spaghetti or linguine.


(serves 2)

150g (5 oz) spaghettini
100g (3.5 oz) salmon roe (2 small jars)
1 shallot, finely minced
A splash of dry, white wine
A good pour of heavy cream
Butter (or a mixture of butter and oil)


Cook the pasta in abundant, well salted water until al dente.

While the pasta is cooking, melt a good dollop of butter (or a mixture of oil and butter) in a skillet. Sauté the shallot over very gentle heat for a minute or two, then add a splash of white wine. Raise the heat and let the wine reduce until it become syrupy. Add the cream and reduce again, until you have a nice, ‘saucy’ consistency. Turn off the heat and add half the salmon roe, mixing it well with the cream. If you like crush a few of the roe to add color and taste to the sauce. Taste and adjust for seasoning; the sauce should be very flavorful.

When the pasta is done, transfer it to the skillet. Turn on the heat to medium-high and mix the pasta with the sauce until all the strands of pasta are well coated with the sauce. If you find the sauce it a bit too thick, add more cream. If too thin, just let the pasta cook a bit longer. The pasta should not be swimming in the sauce, but it should slither around easily in the skillet.

Serve in pasta bowls and top each portion with the remaining salmon roe.

NOTES: If you don’t cook with alcohol, use a few drops of lemon juice instead of the white wine; you need a little acidity to balance out the dish. If you want a fancier dish, use some champagne instead of wine—and finish off the rest of the bottle, of course, as you dine. For a Russian touch, use vodka (I’ve seen this version called tagliolini alla russa). You can add a bit of chopped parsley to the shallot soffritto, although I think it rather mars the look of the dish. And if you don’t have shallot on hand, very finely minced onion will do as well. (Either way, it’s important to mince very finely, so the shallot or onion melts into the sauce completely. You want them to lend a back-taste that’s hardly noticeable.) Oh, and please, no grated cheese…

The sauce is very nice made also with chopped bits of smoked salmon, in which case you should add the salmon to the soffritto and proceed from there.

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21 Responses to “Spaghettini al caviale di salmone (Thin Spaghetti with Salmon Roe)”

  1. 30 December 2012 at 23:27 #

    What a pretty dish! I love the pop and flavor of salmon roe, and this sounds like a wonderful way to dress up a pasta dish for a special occasion.

    • 30 December 2012 at 23:46 #

      Definitely worth a try, Dara! Thanks for stopping by. :-)

  2. 30 December 2012 at 22:21 #

    Wow! What a beautiful dish, and perfect for New Year’s Eve. Bravo, Frank! Buon anno!

  3. 30 December 2012 at 22:09 #

    I am loving this – and yes – for Valentine’s Day since the week is worked out. Especially love the red roe. Creme fraiche instead of heavy cream? Not sure but love the idea of the tang and the salt.

    • 30 December 2012 at 23:45 #

      Why not? I like the sound of crème fraîche. If you try it, do let us know what you think.

  4. 30 December 2012 at 21:12 #

    A favorite at our house too … your picture looks absolutely inviting … Come sempre delle ricette deliziose!

  5. 13 June 2012 at 03:22 #

    I love this idea, so simple yet full of flavor, elegant and beautiful colors. I will definitely be trying these, because it is one of those very convenient pantry recipes, “che però ti fanno fare bellissima figura”!

  6. 11 June 2012 at 20:51 #

    Why, thank you Jean!

  7. 11 June 2012 at 16:21 #

    What a beautiful, elegant dish–love everything about it!

  8. 10 June 2012 at 20:15 #

    Do tell us what you think if you try it.. :=)

  9. 10 June 2012 at 20:14 #

    It's definitely worth a try, Ruth!

  10. 10 June 2012 at 20:13 #

    Sono d'accordissimo, Chiara. Un prosecco sarebbe l'abbinamento ideale!

  11. 10 June 2012 at 20:10 #

    Ha! Champagne, of course… in the dish and with the dish. :=)

  12. 7 June 2012 at 17:01 #

    This must be delicious! I love salmon roe but never thought of using it this way! I will have to correct it ASAP!

  13. 5 June 2012 at 16:06 #

    When I saw this on Facebook I thought 'wow' and just seeing the recipe here, so simple, flavourful, elegant and impressive, makes me want to order some salmon roe online as soon as possible. Really need to try it. So curious about the combination of flavours…

  14. 4 June 2012 at 14:52 #

    splendida idea per una cena a due, accompagnata da un buon Prosecco sarà perfetta !

  15. 4 June 2012 at 10:55 #

    At first glance – I thought it was just the spaghetti and the roe – and I was good with that! I am loving the addition of a bit of smoked salmon. Use champagne? Always.

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