Taramasalata is a thick, creamy dip, popular in Greek cuisine, made with salted fish roe and oil, usually served as a meze dish or as a starter.
When looking for recipes for a traditional dish that I have never made, I normally check different versions and compare them, and then I make my own version based on a comparison of what I’ve found, adding my twist if I believe that improvements can be made.
For tamarasalata, as usual, I have found some elements that pretty much all recipes have in common (fish roe, olive oil and some bread for the texture), and others that were used only in certain versions (some use garlic, others onion or shallot, others milk or cream).
Since I actually believe that all of this ingredients can give something to this dish, as long as they are treated in the right way and used in the right proportion, I have decided to include all of them, but with some changes:
Garlic: all the recipes I’ve found call for raw garlic; since raw garlic can be overpowering, a technique that can be used to make it milder is blanching: simply put the garlic cloves in a pot with cold water and bring it to the boil. As soon as it starts boiling, transfer the garlic in a bowl of cold (or even iced) water. This operation should be repeated three times.
Milk: for this recipe, however, I have boiled the garlic in water twice; the third time I have boiled it in milk and cooked it until the milk was reduced by half; this leaves soft garlic cloves that have lost all of their aggressive (so to speak) character, and a nicely scented garlic-infused milk
Onion: all the recipes that I’ve seen used raw onion or shallot. Raw onion, a bit like garlic, has got a very strong flavour and is not everyone’s cup of tea (and definitely not mine). The only type of onion that I eat raw in salads is red onion; furthermore, taramasalata should have a nice pinkish colour, and red onion contributes to this as well.
200g salted cod roe
50g stale white bread, crusts removed
50ml extra virgin olive oil
100 ml semi skimmed milk*
4 garlic cloves
1 tsp. red onion, finely chopped
1 pinch of parsley, finely chopped
2 tbsp. lemon juice
*: NOTE: that is the initial quantity, but it should be reduced by half when you use it
The process is quite simple:
- Soak the roe in cold water for about an hour
- In the meantime, blanche the garlic as described above and let the milk cool down
- Soak the bread in the milk
- Rinse and drain the roe thoroughly, cut in half lengthways, then, with the skin side down on a board, scrape the roe off the skin with a knife
- Places the roe, garlic, onion and bread in a food processor and blend
- Add the lemon juice and the oil in a thin stream and keep blending until the desired texture has been reached
- Taste to adjust the seasoning if it’s the case
You can serve it with toasted pitta bread and/or crudités