Who doesn’t know the taramosalata? It is a specialty prepared with cod or mullet roes.
What is taramosalata?
Taramosalata is a Greek specialty that is also found in Turkish cuisine. Turkey and Greece both claim the paternity of this recipe. It is a kind of creamy dip prepared with smoked or fresh fish roes, soaked bread, olive oil and lemon juice.
If this dip is sometimes pink, the beautiful pink color that is found in taramosalata sold in stores is due to the use of the famous E120 food coloring, made from the insect “dactylopius coccus” also known as cochineal.
The variants of taramosalata
There are two kinds of tarama: the pink and the white (off white or very slightly pink). The first is simply a tarama to which the food coloring is added. The second, often more expensive and much better in my opinion, is a natural taramosalata.
How to make taramosalata
For the preparation of this recipe, there are two options: you can either use bread or boiled potatoes as the binding agent. The result of each of these preparations is completely different.
With bread, you obtain a creamy, but slightly grainy dip, whereas with potato, you get a creamier result.
I personally prefer the bread-based version and this is the one I chose to prepare today.
When is taramosalata consumed?
In Greece, taramosalata is more frequently consumed during periods of fasting, especially On Clean Monday which is the first day of Lent in Eastern, Orthodox and Catholic churches.
What is a mezze?
Taramosalata is what is called a mezzé. The word mezzé (mézé or mézédes), in Greek and meze in Turkish comes from the Persian word mazze which means “flavor” or the Arabic word mazmiz which means “to nibble”.
Mezze is a tradition in Levantine gastronomy. It consists in a series of small dishes, from 10 to 100, which would be the equivalent of an appetizer. Each mezze is served in a small dish. It takes us back to Antiquity and its feasts where you ate with your fingers.
While mezzes will be found in Turkish cuisine and Lebanese cuisine, here are some examples of mezedhes from Greece: the very popular tzatziki, ktipiti, Greek salad (Horiatiki saláta), revithia soupa, moussaka, spanakópita, or prasopita. But there are many more.
It was definitely a treat!
- 8 oz. smoked cod roes (white or pink)
- 4 slices stale bread (without crust)
- 1 scallion (white part), cut into four
- 2 lemons , juiced
- ½ cup olive oil
- Ground pepper
- Soak the bread in cold water for 30 minutes.
- In a blender, mix the cod roes, scallion and half of the lemon juice and mix at medium speed to obtain a creamy texture.
- Thoroughly wring the bread and add it to the preparation and blend again.
- Stir in remaining lemon juice, pepper and reduce blender speed to low. Gently pour the olive oil until it is completely absorbed. You should obtain a thick cream.
- Do not add salt, as the smoked cod roes are already very salty.