“Free style”, easy-looking recipes are either a blessing or a curse. I have no idea to which category belongs taramosalata, but I am proud to say that even my very first humble attempt to prepare it gave flavoursome, satisfying results. I wonder why I waited so long before making this easy home-made version of the famous fish roe dip.
As many of you probably know, taramosalata is a Greek fish roe dip (“tarama” means fish roe and “salata”… salad) and is usually made with carp or cod roe, oil, lemon juice and bread crumbs or mashed potatoes. According to Wikipedia similar roe spreads apparently exist also in Turkey, Bulgaria and Romania. I am not Greek nor have any links with these nationalities, but taramosalata has kept me company since early childhood. I have always been crazy for what I knew at the time as “caviar paste” and buttered bread with a generous layer of this delicacy was one of my beloved snacks. Since the only brand I knew was Swedish, I had been convinced until recently that it was a traditional Swedish product. Since I have never tasted taramosalata made in Greece, nowadays the only two commercial taramosalatas I like also come from Sweden.
I had no idea what the home-made taramosalata should taste like, so I have no comparison, but what you see above was very different from what I used to buy. In a good sense of course; it’s not as horribly salty, not as “violent” and strangely addictive… I couldn’t stop myself from snacking on it all evening… According to Wikipedia, taramosalata is served in Greece on the first day of Easter Lent, but personally I could have it every single day, all year long. I have no idea what the Greeks serve it with (it’s my first Greek recipe on this blog!) but until now a slice of buttered French baguette is my favourite choice. I have also greatly enjoyed it with crunchy Finnish rye bread and with German pumpernickel. Taste wise taramosalata pairs well with cucumber and dill. I like to serve it as a snack on small toasts when my taramasalata-loving friends come for drinks and cannot wait to make them taste my home-made version.
After reading many different recipes on Greek cooking blogs I realised everyone made taramosalata in a different way. Unfortunately Katerina, my favourite Greek blogger, hasn’t written about it, so I finally decided to improvise and develop my own recipe. The result has got almost nothing in common with what I have known until now (on the other hand I used roe from a different fish), but the paste is delicious. Since I improvised a lot, I encourage you to treat the below recipe only as a guide line and adapt it to your own preferences and products you use.
TIPS: I have used here cheap IKEA herring roe bought for the purpose of what I considered a risky experiment. You can use any other fish roe of course. According to many people the whiter the roe, the better the quality.
I have preferred extra-virgin olive oil, but it has a stronger taste and is slightly bitter compared to canola oil which is more neutral. Up to you to decide.
With the below small amount a small baby food processor works the best.
I found that taramosalata greatly improves after several hours in the fridge, so I advise you to prepare it in advance.
Preparation: 15 minutes+ 2-3 hours in the fridge
Ingredients (yields about 200 ml/ 1 1/2 cup):
85 g (3 oz) cured fish roe (for this first experiment I have used cheap herring roe bought at IKEA)
2- 3 slices of soft white bread (without crust) soaked in water and squeezed
125 ml (1/2 cup) oil (I have used extra-virgin olive oil, but canola oil has a more neutral taste)
1/2 small onion, chopped
chili powder and salt to taste
juice from 1/2 lemon
Put the fish roe, 2 soaked slices of bread, the onion and half of the oil in a food processor and mix until smooth and fluffy.
Add more oil and mix once more.
If the consistency is too thick, add more oil and mix once more.
If it’s too liquid, add the third soaked bread slice.
Season with lemon juice, chili and salt and mix once more. Chill for a couple of hours.
Serve sprinkled with fresh dill.