Greek Taramosalata – Fish Roe Salad Recipe

Posted in on the 13th September, 2012


  • 1 7-ounce jar of tarama (fish roe)
  • 7 slices white bread, about 12 oz (350 g)
  • 3 tablespoons grated onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • Cup of olive oil
  • Chopped parsley
  • Bagel chips for dipping
  • or 12 oz (350g) cold, mashed potato

The Greeks use taramas, which is ideally the dried and salted roe of the grey mullet; but more usually less expensive dried and salted cod or tuna roe, for this famous dish. In Greece, imported tarama is usually sold as a paste from large tubs. It is coloured deep pink, although some shops do sell the more expensive uncoloured tarama. Delicatessens in Europe or America sometimes stock taramás.

Otherwise substitute cod’s roe (unsmoked) which you have skinned and mashed down with a little lemon juice. The Greeks of antiquity probably introduced the art of salting fish roe to Italy and France (in the latter case via their colony at Massilia, or Marseilles).

Once you’ve tried taramosalata, the tangy Greek appetizer, you’ll never go back to onion dip. The smooth, pale coral pate is based on the roe of the gray mullet or cod combined with olive oil, lemon juice, minced onion, moistened bread and/or mashed potatoes. It’s served with small triangles of pita bread, wizened black Greek olives, or with crisp crackers or toast.

Taramosalata is listed on the menu as “fish roe salad,” which is a somewhat unappetizing and inaccurate way to describe something that tastes like a blend of caviar and very light cream cheese.

This pink, slick and tasty concoction often turns out to oily and too fishy-tasting, but not at Greek Islands, here it was smooth and pleasantly delicious.

Greek Taramosalata Salad recipe Directions:

The names of the French salted roe specialty known as “boutargue” and the Italian “botargo” are both etymologically related to the Greek word taramasaláta is sometimes made with potatoes instead of bread – preference for one recipe or the other is a matter of personal taste. 12 oz (350 g) white bread (dry weight) which is two or three days old and has hardened, crusts removed. This should be de-salted by cutting it into thick pieces and steeping in cold water for about 30 minutes, then carefully draining and rinsing it.

Press out any remaining water by squeezing it in a muslin cloth or jelly bag. 1/4 teaspoon finely grated white onion (optional but recommended ­ just the right amount will enhance the flavour of the tarama. Too much will destroy it!). Juice of 1 small lemon Olive oil – you will need at least 1/2 cup (4 fl oz/125 ml) Soak the bread in a bowl with enough slightly warmed milk to cover for 15 minutes, then squeeze it dry with your hands. Mix together the tarama, bread, and onion. A food processor is ideal for the purpose.

Then, setting the machine at a moderate speed, add oil and lemon juice alternately and slowly until a thick, creamy but not runny consistency is acquired. Serve with warm grilled pita bread or toast and lemon wedges so that your guests can squeeze fresh juice on the taramasaláta.

To make taramasaláta with potatoes, substitute 12 oz (350g) cold, mashed potato for the bread. Serves 4-fi when combined with other mezedes.

Another variation of the recipe directions is to lightly toast the bread without letting it brown. Trim off the crust and soak the toast in water. Squeeze out the moisture and place in a food processor. Add the tarama and puree until smooth. Add the onion, garlic, lemon juice and bread, and puree again until smooth. Slowly add the olive oil in a stream with the processor running until the mixture becomes very smooth and creamy.

Spoon the taramosalata into a bowl, garnish with the parsley and serve with bagel chips.

Original Greek Taramosalata Salad recipe yield: 4 servings

Some tips for making superior Taramosalata:

Taramosalata is what Greeks call “the king of appetizers”. The main ingredient in it is tarama – a firm, pale pink salted fish roe. If you can’t find that, try salted cod or carp roe instead. The roe is mixed with moistened bread and other flavorful ingredients to make a spread or dip.

Good taramosalata depends on the quality and proportion of ingredients. Flavorful tarama, or fish roe, is a prerequisite, of course, along with sunny tasting olive oil – avoid cheap, bland vegetable oil – freshly squeezed lemon juice and mashed potatoes made from mealy, not watery, spuds. The dip should be frothy, not runny, and taste of the Aegean – seductive, mysterious, piquant. It should make you feel like dancing the misirlou.

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