Monday, 22 February 2010


Sometimes taramosalata is made with potatoes. They replace bread, which is the more common ingredient used to dilute tarama. I don't know if this is a regional preference or just a recipe variation. Since tarama is often eaten during Lent, when there are many fasting restrictions, potatoes might have been added to make a more filling salad.

I have a particular fondness for this recipe, and it's slowly becoming my go-to recipe for tarama salad. It's lemony, with a mild tarama flavour, but if you like it stronger, you can add a little more tarama. The taste of the potatoes adds more complexity to the salad than bread does. 

Tarama made with potatoes reminds me of the following story, which my mother loves to tell: When my parents were newly married, my mother made taramosalata with potatoes instead of bread. It was around Easter time, and relatives were coming for dinner. When my father tasted it, he hit the roof. "What have you done? he asked her. Why did you put potatoes in the tarama? They'll be laughing at us!" He had never heard of a version of the recipe made with potatoes and he was very upset. His antics ruined my mother's confidence in the quality of the dinner she had prepared. Neither one of my parents was happy to see the company arrive. As it turned out the taramosalata was eaten with pleasure, and the guests complimented her cooking! I don't know what exactly if anything that incident taught my father; he was a man with a hot temper but I don't remember him criticizing my mother's cooking.

This tarama is based on a recipe I came across years ago when it was published in the New York Times.  

  • 2 cups vegetable oil
  • 1/4 of an onion, chopped
  • 1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, boiled, peeled, cooled and chopped
  • 3/4 cup blanched almonds, ground up
  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) tarama
  • 2/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

  • In a food processor mix the onion, potatoes and almonds until they are finely incorporated and the mixture looks smooth.
  • Add the tarama and keep mixing until blended.
  • Add the lemon juice, and mix.
  • Add the olive oil in a slow, steady stream mixing constantly. Stop when the salad has the consistency of mayonnaise 
  • Refrigerate for at least one hour before serving.
  • This should make about four cups, plenty for leftovers or to send home with guests.
What is Tarama?

What we purchase as bottled tarama is the salted and cured roe (or caviar) of carp fish. What is roe? That’s the ripe ovary and the masses of fish eggs it contains. Carp roe (or hard roe), is aged for about a year before it’s ready to be sold as tarama. Tarama is not eatable plain and should be turned into taramosalata before eating. Taramosalata is made by adding bread, lemon juice and oil to a portion of tarama. The mixture should have a light orange or salmon colour. The more it is diluted with bread and oil (or potatoes as is the case in the recipe here), the lighter its colour becomes. 

I truly would not recommend buying ready-made tarama salad (taramosalata); it contains chemicals and food colouring and who knows what else! If you find it ready-made for sale and it looks a hot pink colour, put your sunglasses on and run!