Tarama

Tarama Spread

The first time I saw tarama, I hated it. It was a brilliant pink color, one not generally found in nature. And when I heard the paste was fish egg-based, I said, “Non, merci.” Since then, I’ve become a bit accro (hooked) on the Greek spread, and decided it was time to spread the word.

Tarama Spread

And I’m not the only one who’s become a convert. Tarama is a very popular appetizer in Paris, and doesn’t need much introduction here as it’s widely available – even in supermarkets, next to other spreads like hummus and tapenade. (So take that, people who think that the French don’t embrace foods from other cultures.)

Tarama Spread

However it’s hard to find very good versions. Most of the little plastic tubs sold in grocery stores are particularly brightly colored, and don’t do the dip justice, although you can find good versions of tarama in Greek and Middle Eastern épiceries, as well as some of the shops in the Marais. Some versions are light in color, almost beige, making me wonder where they get their fish eggs.

Tarama Spread

I made mine with œufs de lompe, otherwise known as lumpfish eggs. Farmed trout roe is milder, but can be used if it’s available — or another variety of salted fish eggs. Most grocery stores carry lumpfish caviar, but you can check your local fish market for what might be available in your area.

Tarama Spread

Tarama is an emulsion, made just like mayonnaise, but without any eggs. (And it’s not as finicky, either.) The thickening comes from bread (although some versions use potatoes), and a blender makes fast work of it. It’s good served as an appetizer with little toasts or crackers, and goes well with a light white wine.

tarama recipe

Tarama
Print Recipe
About 2 cups (500g)
Some people like a bit of onion or garlic in their tarama. They don’t usually add them to versions I’ve had in Paris, but if you want to add them, use about 1/4 cup minced shallots or onions (red or white), in step 1 in place of the garlic. Not everybody uses garlic in their tarama and it does tend to compete a bit with the fish flavor. So you can leave it out if you want. But I like a small amount in there.It’s traditional to use codfish roe (eggs), which are harder to find in Paris than lumpfish roe, which I used. If you can find codfish roe – which are usually not tinted – feel free to use them.White pepper isn’t easily available, but adds a nice little bit of zip. You can leave it out or use black pepper, if you don’t mind the black bits. (I do, for some reason.) You can use a blender or food processor. I think it gets more whipped up, and thicker in a blender. If using a blender, you may need to stop it midway and scrape down the sides, as it may get too thick to incorporate all the oil.
4 slices (90g) white bread, such as pain de mie
1/2 cup (100g) fish roe, red or white
1/2 cup (125ml) olive oil
1/2 cup (125ml) vegetable oil, such as canola or sunflower
Optional: 1 small clove garlic, peeled, green germ removed, and minced
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1. Trim the crusts from the bread, break into large pieces and put into a bowl. Cover with water then immediately grab them with your hand and squeeze most of the water out.
2. Put the bread, fish eggs, and garlic (if using) in a blender or the bowl of a food processor. Put on the lid. (If using a blender, remove the center cap, in the middle of the lid. A funnel put in the opening will prevent splattering. If using a food processor, remove the cylinder in the feeding tube.)
3. Turn the blender on to thoroughly combine the fish eggs and bread. Mix the olive oil and vegetable oil in a measuring cup with a spout. With the motor running on medium-high speed, drizzle the oil into the fish egg mixture in a slow, steady stream, until it’s all added. Add the lemon juice and white pepper. Taste, and add more lemon juice, if desired.
4. Scrape into a bowl and serve.

Storage: Tarama can be made up to five days in advance, and refrigerated, well covered. I think it actually gets better after it sits for a day or two, so feel free to make it in advance.

Related Links and Recipes

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How to make caviar (Honest Food)

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54 comments

  • ault
    September 8, 2014 3:12pm

    Tarama was traditionally made with smoked cod or carp roe. The result is beige. The pink hue is added beet juice.

  • September 8, 2014 3:56pm

    Hi David. This Greek thinks it is wonderful that you enjoy taramosalata (the name of the spread/dip. Taramas is the name of the fish roe). Taramas should not be bright pink but pale pink as are the fish eggs (carp eggs is the traditional type of eggs used).
    I love making my taramosalata with bread (you can see the recipe here http://mylittleexpatkitchen.blogspot.nl/2010/02/first-mezes.html) but there is also a version made with boiled potato. You should try that one too, it’s really flavorful as well.
    Your photos are gorgeous by the way :)

  • Anna
    September 8, 2014 4:18pm

    Tarama can also be thickened with some boiled semolina.

  • September 8, 2014 4:47pm

    I love tarama, but I’ve only called it taramasalata! Never seen it otherwise! Super delicious either way :)

  • September 8, 2014 5:00pm

    Isn’t this normally made with cod’s roe, which you can buy smoked from he fishmonger? I’m always a little suspicious of those jars of lumpfish caviar…….

  • September 8, 2014 5:05pm

    You’re making me want to try it for the first time! Seeing the jars in the supermarket I’ve always passed it up, but now that you’ve demystified it I’m thinking this is something I’d actually enjoy.

  • September 8, 2014 5:10pm

    Thanks for speaking up about Tarama, David. Want to try your recipe. In the meantime I’ll snag some at Monop

  • Catherine
    September 8, 2014 5:11pm

    The English gobble it up and it’s widely available in supermarkets here. However, I never saw it when I went to Crete and Rhodes. It’s more common in Cyprus and a lot of restaurants here are Greek Cypriot.

  • Alice
    September 8, 2014 5:14pm

    Traditionally tamarasalata is made with smoked cod’s roe that you buy in a large, unappetising lump from a good fishmongers. Hard to find, even in the UK where we have a lot of cod. But take the trouble to make it with the roe, the same method, but made properly (no pink food colouring please, natural or otherwise), it’s beige and creamy and salty – quite wonderful very, very thin, crisp toast.

  • September 8, 2014 5:15pm

    cod roe …yes, is traditional and the tarama a peachy to beige color.
    We always ate this spread on thickly sliced ‘good’ bread…it’s addictive!
    I have not had this in such a long time. Ate it as a child in my Greek family and tried eating it once pre-prepared in a jar, but found it too creamy (and creepy). A jar of cod roe will go a long way as will the flavor. I seem to recall only a few tablespoons being used to make tarama, not a half cup and certainly much more bread than 4 slices even with only a few tablespoons. The oil should be olive oil …if you’re making Greek. (which I just might have to do now!)

  • Jess
    September 8, 2014 5:37pm

    About 15 years ago, a Japanese-American friend fed me pasta with a fish roe sauce like this. Gods was it good! She sent me home with a packet of caviar and instructions to mix with some mayonnaise and toss with hot pasta. Thanks for the reminder!!

  • Mali
    September 8, 2014 5:38pm

    I’ve always wanted to make taramasalata but never took the time to look very hard for recipes years ago. Thanks for reminding me Mr D!!!

  • Juliette
    September 8, 2014 5:48pm

    Tarama is made with “œufs de cabillaud” and the best one you can find in food stores in Paris is from the brand called “Blini” and is more “beige” than pink. Enjoy!!

  • Jeannine
    September 8, 2014 6:01pm

    Yes, tarama without olive oil is not tarama. Every restaurant in Greece should have it. Although Humus is very Middle Eastern and found in Cyprus. Some Greek tourist spots have added it to the menu but it is not Greek. Just a nice way to please tourists and since it is very inexpensive to make, a very profitable item.
    On Oberkampf, Paris, at the Greek traiteur there is a white tarama. The server from Thessalonii says that is the Thessalonian version while I’ve never seen it in Greece. Although I don’t go to Macedonia. If in Paris try the Greek traiteur tucked in between various food shops on the foodie section of Oberkampf.

    • September 8, 2014 9:42pm
      David Lebovitz

      I know that place but never tried their tarama. Thanks! I was at a party and some one brought some (beige) tarama from a place in the 16th. I don’t know where it was from, but it was amazing and everyone else at the party thought so, too.

  • Judy
    September 8, 2014 6:02pm

    I love taramasalata. There was a Greek restaurant in Chicago that had the best, it was made with mashed potatoes instead of bread. Every time I go to a Greek restaurant I order it, but I’ve yet to find anything that comes close. I guess I’ll have to try making it as you’ve now peaked my appetite for taramasalata.

  • Russ
    September 8, 2014 6:13pm

    Can’t imagine using lumpfish eggs instead of the traditional cod. Lumpfish “caviar” is dyed and so inferior. You surprise me!

    • September 8, 2014 9:40pm
      David Lebovitz

      I don’t know where to find smoked cod eggs in Paris, but I try to avoid cod in general, because of the sustainability issue. (Although after buying the lumpfish, I did a little reading up and they’re not entirely the best choice for sustainability either.) That’s why I mentioned in the post that people should do some looking around and find what they can where they are. I try to be conscious of the various places in the world that people live and try to make the recipes (and ingredients) as accessible to as many as possible.

  • September 8, 2014 6:19pm

    Never tried or heard of it. Sounds interesting. We may take a trip to Paris this winter so putting it on my list . Thank you for sharing.

  • September 8, 2014 7:13pm

    Viva la tarama! I say oui, merci EVERYTIME I am offered tarama.

  • Juday123
    September 8, 2014 7:18pm

    My business partner was Greek, so I have been making this for about 25 years. Learned from a friend’s mother, who was a Greek via Egypt. She used carp roe, an egg yolk and grated onion, as well as a bit of lemon juice. The bread is key, and I serve it with pita and kalamata olives – yum!!

  • Lina
    September 8, 2014 8:33pm

    It’s really great to see Tarama recipe on your blog. Thank you David, for reminding me of a staple of my childhood years.
    I have my mother’s Turkish – Jewish recipe version for Tarama and the main difference is that we use carp roe which is not very different but possibly more concentrated and stronger in taste. Instead of wetting the bread with water, we dip it in milk which softens the possible excess salt. We usually skip garlic or onions to get a purer after-taste.
    Gotta go to the fish market and try it again….
    Thanks again :-)

  • September 8, 2014 11:04pm

    I saw a lot of taramasalata in Greece but not tarama…Not sure if its the same thing or they just call it something different in France?

    Its quite good though, we ordered it at a restaurant where they could not really explain what was in it and they said it was ‘like hummus’. Only realized there were fish eggs in it a lot later butttt glad we tried it before we knew as not everyone would have been on board with the fish eggs haha.

  • Gabrielle
    September 8, 2014 11:13pm

    Wonderful! Taramasalata has become an annual tradition in my house, since we took the leap a couple summers ago to buy a bag of fresh salmon roe from the native fishermen at our local farmers market (here in the Pacific Northwest)–not to make anyone jealous, but it goes for something like $8/lb., which makes plenty of delicious oniony spread that will be pulled out of the freezer all winter to top homemade bagels.

  • Nicolette
    September 8, 2014 11:33pm

    Opa David!

    Taramasalata can be done with potatoes, bread or in the region of Epiros (north west Greece) they use ground almonds as the thickener. I also add a few tablespoons of seltzer water which lightens the consistency to a fluffy flavored emulsion hat can serve as a dip, a sauce, or a filling. It is served as a meze along side melitzanosalata (grilled eggplant salad with tomato, vinegar, and parsley) and of course ,tzatziki (Greek yogurt with cucumber, garlic and mint)—the holy trinity of Greek dips! served with warm pita bread triangles this Greek girl is ‘good to go’! As a student in Paris I use to hit the Greek restaurants tucked into the Boule Miche when I got homesick for my heritage….just like I would head to the Marais district for my hot pastrami on rye because I am a New Yorker! World peace through food!

  • Mary
    September 9, 2014 3:38am

    Our Greek family makes this often, although, like some of the other Greeks have mentioned, we add grated onion. It is traditionally an item served during fasting periods when olive oil is not allowed, so we always use canola oil (or some older Greeks use corn oil in the States). It’s strongly flavored if you’re not used to it, but my non-Greek sister-in-law is developing quite an addiction to it…although I still can’t get her to eat kalamata olives. :)

  • September 9, 2014 4:03am

    I normally don’t eat pink.

    But in this case, I will make an eggception. (fish eggs that is…)

  • September 9, 2014 7:35am

    I absolutely love anything with fish roe, and am hurt that I haven’t ever had tarama. Now I have to find some lumpfish roe (I doubt smoked cod roe is going to be an option in Bangkok) and make this ASAP! Thanks for the inspiration David.

  • David Schaible
    September 9, 2014 9:43am

    I too am a firm convert to Taramosalata. When I first had it at a Greek restaurant in Tarpon Springs Florida, I had to immediately find out how to make it so that I can locate this it is so easy the only difference is that I found from your recipe were that you can a use bread that’s been soaked in milk and then squeezed out 4b use mash potatoes evenly instant potato flakes work find that have been left 4 days in the refrigerator make them sicklike everyone says Caramba is the name of car pro intolerable Salada is the name of the finished product almost every recipe I’ve ever sounds contain olive oil both onion and garlic row and olive oil.use Greek olive oil! Just as all olive oils taste different whether it’s from Tuscany Morocco Spain or wherever the taste of true Greek olive oil in this combination is absolutely the best.all of these types of recipes are peasant foods using leftovers to use everything in the kitchen with no waste. A very similar but he will eat tasty one is for Delia made the same without the car pro usually from potatoes but lots more garlic it is like the most garlicky garlic mashed potatoes you’ve ever had. The olive oil and lemon that really lend all the flavor to the dish. When I have been served either one it’s usually with a selection of smoked octopus anchovies and variety of Greek olives all of this on a plate with olive oil poured over the whole thing serve with a small cut up bag at type of bread.

  • David Schaible
    September 9, 2014 9:50am

    Please forgive what appears to a rambling mess above. Google voice to text strikes again! Suffice to say, thanks, try the Skordalia too. Use caro roe (available at krinos.com) I have always found that if you add the row and folded in my hand in the last step the eggs won’t break and you’ll still have that wonderful sort of oceanic crunch when you eat this dish.

  • Karine
    September 9, 2014 9:57am

    David usually your posts are great but this one was incredibly uninformed and the ‘tarama’ recipe is seriously off the mark.
    I realise people say this type of thing for every recipe but making tarama in the traditional and, most delicious, way is not rocket science

  • September 9, 2014 10:36am

    You should try this delicious meze with Raki instead of white wine. I believe that it goes better with that :))

  • Tom
    September 9, 2014 10:59am

    Hi.
    In Israel it called Ikra/Ikara. you can get it in two colours, pink or white, depending on the kind of fish eggs you’re using. Here also it’s often served with chopped onions.
    It’s the best when served with a fresh soft pretzel. Yummy!

  • Gloria
    September 9, 2014 11:04am

    This fish roe spread is popular in Eastern Europe too, besides Greece. It’s traditional in Romania and eaten especially on New Year’s Eve. But here we do it from carp roe, with bread and sunflower seed oil, plus we add a little chopped onion at the end. It is indeed delicious. What is also do is wrap the roe lump in some fine cloth and let it sit in milk for a while before preparing the spread. This way it will not be too salty.

  • Diane
    September 9, 2014 11:28am

    Great to see your recipe for Tarama. Here in Australia, Taramosalata is a popular dip and I suspect this is the same thing. I’ve never thought of making it myself as it’s available in most food stores. Heading to Paris (Ile Saint Louis)in a few days and will go to the Marais in search of Tarama to see if it’s the same taste. Thanks, David

  • Karen Fox
    September 9, 2014 7:16pm

    Ah, David, I think Tarama will have to remain undiscovered for me. Non, merci. :)

  • Markella Vavaka
    September 9, 2014 10:25pm

    My mother, who always cooked traditional Greek recipes passed down from her mother, used to make an unconventional, ground-breaking version of taramosalata that is out of this world delicious. In addition to the basic ingredients (tarama, olive oil, lemon juice, bread and onion) she would add an AVOCADO!!!! Took the taramosalata to a whole different level!

    • September 9, 2014 10:33pm

      Wow an avocado…I didn’t think Greeks new what such a prize was. I was deprived from these yummy fruits growing up until I became a Californian. I can’t wait to try your mother’s recipe as I love tarama just as much as I love avocados. Thank you for sharing!

  • rainey
    September 10, 2014 5:52am

    I think this is what I’ve always known as taramasalata. Love it! Tho I my impression is not of something that pink but something creamy — in color and texture — with dots of orange/red roe.

    Yummy stuff!

  • hortie
    September 10, 2014 1:42pm

    My mother makes it with poutargue and it is delicious (and not pink) !!

    • JEANNINE
      September 10, 2014 1:52pm

      The comments re Tarama are amazing! A friend in Thessaloniki wants to know – avocado chunk or smooth? For something as basic in Greek food to have so many variations and inputs is amazing. BTW we always put a sprinkling of flat leaf parsley in the mixture and then on top when serving. A bit of variety re texture and taste. In Greece you should order Tarama. If you order Tarmasalata then they’ll know you are a foreigner or a “Foreign Greek”. Also, not so many “please” and “thank you” if you want to be seen as local. I’m criticized often about my courtesy words although I continue to do so.

      • Markella Vavaka
        September 10, 2014 5:30pm

        JEANNINE, my mom liked the taramosalata with avocado creamy so she would put everything in a blender. This of course is personal, if you like it chunky, then just smash the avocado with a fork and add it to the taramosalata at the end. THEOFILIA, Greeks have come a long way with avocado lately, but for your information, my mom and I lived in New York for most of our lives before moving to Greece, so the avocado was a foreign influence to the traditional taramosalata.

  • September 10, 2014 7:08pm

    You are such an inspiration – i visit your blog every day!

    I just launched a new blog (http://www.lifeandthelemons.com/) – think it’s gonna be fun and exciting in time!
    Have a look, and keep up the good work!

  • September 11, 2014 8:59pm

    I love taramasalata, which is widely available here, both from mainstream and Turkish supermarkets. The latter is probably better quality but, alas, I can’t confirm or deny this because I appear to be allergic to something in it, and it makes me feel very sick, so I always have to refuse it! A pity, because when I have eaten it (in Greek restaurants in Paris, before I realised it made me feel sick), I loved it!

  • September 12, 2014 12:04am

    This is something I wish was more readily available here in the states. it’s so easy to find anywhere you go in London and when I’m visiting the in-laws I practically inhale it. My husband will be thrilled when I surprise him with this.

  • R Watkins
    September 12, 2014 3:20pm

    Does anyone know a source for smoked cod’s roe in the States? Thanks.

    • Markella Vavaka
      September 12, 2014 4:56pm

      In response to R. Watkins question, you can find tarama or carp roe at: http://www.krinos.ca/. In the ” search” box you type in “tarama” and you will find it. Also you could order it through Amazon under “Krinos tarama- Carp Roe Caviar.” A 10oz. jar sells for $6.99. Also, in Pittsbourg, PA there is “Salonika Imports” that carry it. I hope I was of help.

  • Sally Baker
    September 14, 2014 2:10pm

    I had forgotten all about taramasalata until I read your post. Easy enough to buy in London but not here in Michigan. Delicious as a dip with pita bread.

  • Kostas
    September 14, 2014 9:45pm

    Even though you made some twists, this is pretty much it.
    The twist with the garlic instead of the onions we are using sounds good.I might try it.
    Another secret is to use 3-4 days stale country (with sourdough) bread and just olive oil. Taramosalata needs a lot of olive oil to give a really smooth texture.Imo white cod roe tastes better but it’s more rare to find it.

    Another way to induce people and kids who are not familiar with egg fishs is to make Taramokeftedes (Tarama-fritters).It’s also very popular meze or appetizer in Greece.It’s made with cod roe, soaked stale bread (or mashed potatoes),fresh onions, dill and mint.
    They are perfect side dish with some tsipouro.

  • September 21, 2014 2:01am

    Yes, it is very common here in Québec, and also in Ontario. I don’t know about other Canadian regions.

    Why on earth is olive oil forbidden during the Lenten fast? It contains no dairy or meat; it is a vegetable product.

  • September 21, 2014 8:40pm

    Yes taramosalata is so addictive! Here in Greece we traditionally eat it at the start of lent. And while it is quite rich, it is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids and protein.

    A Greek-American Nutritionist

  • NN
    September 27, 2014 6:31pm

    The spread is actually called taramosalata. Tarama is the unprocessed roe.

    • September 27, 2014 6:38pm
      David Lebovitz

      Yes, but for some reason, here in France, they simply call it Tarama. Not sure why.

      • Jeannine
        September 27, 2014 6:40pm

        The standard expression to order Taramosalata in Greece or Cyprus is Tarama.
        What an amazing response ……

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