What is taramasalata?
Taramasalata (Greek spelling ταραμοσαλάτα) is a creamy mixture made of fish roe (tarama), olive oil, lemon juice, onion and bread. The Greeks call it a salad (salata) but we would call it a dip. Its colour ranges from light beige to bright pink, and mainly depends on the type of fish roe used.
Real taramasalata is made from the pickled eggs of cod, mullet, carp, herring or tuna.
Taramasalata is sold ready-made everywhere, but factory versions cannot match the home-made version. The colour tells you a lot: the brighter pink, the greater the chance that the dip will come from the factory because colourants have been added.
Did you know?
Like kataifi, taramasalata also plays a permanent role in Greek households on Green Monday, the first day of fasting in the run-up to Easter.
How to make taramasalata
A home-made taramasalata only has a few ingredients. The most important, of course, are the tarama (fish eggs). These are so important even that the Greeks sometimes abbreviate the dish to tarama. The eggs vary in colour and taste, depending on the chef’s preference, but range from mild lumpfish eggs to the more pronounced taste of harder roe, which is sometimes smoked instead of pickled.
In addition, onion, in the form of juice or gratings, provides a sharp kick that goes well with the fish taste. White bread without crusts is soaked in water and gives the dip bulk, while olive oil makes the it creamy and lemon juice gives it balance.
The taramasalata is smoothly ground in a food processor. The dip can be topped with a black olive, some fresh parsley, or a dusting of paprika or black pepper.
How to eat
Even though you don’t actually touch it, you still eat taramasalata by hand: you dip a piece of pita bread or chips in it.
Love fish roe? The Japanese dish gunkan is a kind of sushi, shaped into boats, with a fish roe topping.
As a side dish, taramasalata always has accompaniments. Pita (Greek bread) is the obvious choice, but a bag of salted chips is also very tasty! Taramasalata comes into its own as mezze with aubergine dip, keftedes (meatballs) and dolmades (stuffed vine leaves).