Oro di Sardegna
by: Stefano Pibi
Stefano Pibi was born on 7th of April 1966 in Cagliari, where he lives today. He has a degree in engineering and worked in the IT sector for around 25 years, although his greatest passion was always cooking, ever since he was a boy. Over the years he learned to appreciate the most genuine raw materials and the uniqueness of hand made products, beer, cheese, salami and breads. A few years ago his love for breads was born including: bread, pizza, sweet bread, Christmas and Easter bakery goods. For this reason, he decided to change his whole life and leave the world of technology in order to dedicate his energy to the world of baking and bread.
Living in Sardinia, he began to experiment with durum wheat flour (found locally) and with traditional recipes. But then he also began using soft wheat flours too, which come from the residue of already ground flour and other cereals. His main ideas are derived from tradition but he applies the techniques of modern bread making to his baking, that tend to protect the scents, flavours and nutritional value. He prefers to use a starter dough but avoids becoming an extreme traditionalist.
Round samphire bread, butter, Sardinian saffron, powdered Sardinian Bottarga di Muggine (cured flathead grey mullet roe), slices of Bottarga di Muggine, endives, fresh eggs, cherry tomato, homemade mayonnaise, extra virgin olive oil, lemon, sugar, white vinegar, black pepper.
The recipe is born from an ingredient which is held dear by my fellow Sardinians - Bottarga di Muggine (cured flathead grey mullet roe)! It is a prized ingredient and commonly used on pasta and as an appetizer. I put it inside a panino to make it a bit extravagant, this was the original idea. The accompanying ingredients came as a result of choosing similar as well as contrasting tastes with the sardines. Stems of Sardinian saffron, cherry tomatoes marinated in white vinegar, lemon, curled endives left with their own, bitter taste, EVO oil and homemade mayonnaise. This combination makes for an extravagant and tasty sandwich. As for the bread that I made, I chose to make a classic, round shape but with a taste that recalls the sea, thanks to the use of samphire. I named it Oro di Sardegna in order to represent the two most important ingredients that are representative of the island of Sardinia.
The characteristic element of this panino recipe, made by the creator, is the samphire that is used within the bread dough. Being a flavoursome ingredient, the bread recalls the sea and its taste, as well as a slight flavour of green apple. The bread is cut into three layers, heated on a grill and filled from the bottom layer up. The bottom layer includes Sardinian saffron infused butter, salt marinated tomatoes, oregano and white wine vinegar; curly endive dressed with a freshly cooked soft egg, powdered cured flathead grey mullet roe, lemon and EVO oil. After the positioning of the second slice of bread, the second layer includes homemade mayonnaise, and curly endive dressed with slices of cured flathead grey mullet roe.
The oil used in the recipe of the Panino Oro di Sardegna, Bosana Sardinian Extra Virgin Olive Oil: the producer Peddio only uses the bosana sarda olive oil.
The ovarian sac of the mullet (or flathead mullet) salted and dried becomes bottarga (salted mullet roe).
The most popular area in Sardinia for the production of bottarga is Cabras: because in that area the fishing of mullets is very common. It is also true that in other Sardinian ponds where mullets are fished, bottarga can also be fished (Cagliari, Muravera, Tortolì).
Once the mullet’s ovarian sac has been extracted, it is salted and preserved for a time that is in correlation with its size and according to the characteristics that the producer wants to obtain. After the salting process is finished, the sac is cleaned with salt and given a certain shape (unique for every producer) and left to dry. Some time ago, when the drying process was not completed with mechanical ventilation, the bottarga was placed on big tables and protected by mosquito nets in order to stop flies from eating it.
Once a certain consistency was reached, oil and vinegar was used to clean the bottarga. In this way, the oil helped to avoid over drying and the vinegar acted as an anti-moulding agent. The bottarga was then hung in the dry, north-westerly wind. Consider that bottarga was once not consumed fresh and light in colour, as it is today, but was preferred to be eaten well aged, dark and crunchy.
Current production is supported by a motorised drying processes and controlled temperatures. It is in this way that the ideal aging process is completed easily. It is sold in vacuum packed bags that preserve the drying process and the contact.
For the butter, Stefano Pibi uses the Italian brand Fiandino, made with whipped cream.
Round samphire bread, produced by Pbread Natural Bakery, is an invention of Stefano Pibi; the base recipe is of a round, butter bread with a slightly reduced amount of butter in order to balance the taste of the freshly washed and blended samphire. Samphire is a plant with green stems similar to asparagus, that grows in salt water. It is rich in minerals. It is blended into the bread dough to increase the saltiness, sea flavour and a hint of green apple. It is bought at the Cagliari fish markets and grows mainly in the Mediterranean.
Stems of Sardinian saffron DOP (Originating in a Protected Location) and used in the Oro di Sardegna is produced by Cortis di Villanovafranca and the various other producers in San Gavino.
The DOP certification of the Sardinian saffron is closely checked: it is only accepted by selected producers who operate in selected areas of the true Sardinian saffron DOP.
The saffron of Sardinia D.O.P., in order to be considered for trade as “stems of saffron or strings of saffron” must be classified in the category of “stems of saffron or strings of saffron” and be presented with the following organic characteristics: bright red in colour originating from the crocin, an intense aroma deriving from the amount of safranal and a strong flavour as a result of the picrocrocin content.