"They want our sandy-bottom striped gray mullet in Sardinia. They want our red roe in China."
For centuries, some Florida fishermen have netted mullet, an oily fish that retails for about $1 to $3 a pound and takes well to deep-frying or smoking. But in Italy, where some of Cortez's harvest is shipped, sacs of roe are removed from the fish, cured and marketed as a delicacy, bottarga, that often sells back in the United States for more than $100 a pound.
Seth Cripe, 34, who grew up on Anna Maria Island, wants to capture some of that profit for the fishermen and artisans of Cortez.
In 2007, he began salting, pressing and sun-drying the roe sacs in a style used in Liguria and Sardinia, two regions of Italy where cooks frequently finish pasta dishes with a quick grate of briny bottarga. Today, Cripe, working with his business partner, Anna Maria restaurateur Ed Chiles, produces more than 1,500 pounds of Cortez bottarga each year, sold under the Anna Maria Fish Co. label to a few retailers and a growing number of influential chefs.
Read more at the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.