Growing up, our elderly Greek neighbours would pass my mum pale blue ice-cream tubs full of taramasalata over the fence. It was very light pink – almost white – in colour, with a subtle salty fish taste, and it was always topped with a few kalamata olives.
I loved eating it doused with olive oil, small Lebanese cucumbers and crunchy radishes. It would be gone within minutes, before my mum could even transfer it into one of her glass serving dishes. When we moved away from our house near the beach, and away from our Greek neighbors, it would be years before I would try it again. Now I like to make it at home for my own young family. I pack it into a small stainless-steel container, cut fresh pita into wedges and eat it at our local park here in Brunswick or down along the Merri Creek on warm evenings with a beer.
The kind of tarama (fish roe) you can find at your local Greek deli or fishmonger will dictate the flavour and colour of your taramasalata. I like the tarama that is almost yellow in colour – it gives the taramasalata a subtle flavour and a light cream colour. Most likely though, the reddish fish roe is what you will find, which is a fine substitute and what gives taramasalata its more commonly seen pink hue.
Serves 6 as a snack or as part of a meze
Tear the bread into 4 cm pieces and place in a bowl. Cover with warm water and allow to soak for 5–10 minutes or until soft. Squeeze out the excess water and place the soft bread in the bowl of a food processor along with the tarama, shallot and garlic. Blitz until well combined and smooth.
With the motor running, add the lemon juice and then slowly drizzle in the olive oil in a thin stream. Continue to blitz the taramasalata for 30 seconds longer to whip it until it is light. If the mixture is too thick, drizzle 1–2 tbsp of water into the food processor to thin it out a little. Taste for seasoning and adjust with more lemon if necessary. Transfer to a serving bowl, drizzle with extra olive oil and top with salmon roe or a few kalamata olives if desired. Serve with pita or Turkish bread and raw vegetables.
This piece is part of Assemble Papers 13 Mind the Gap, published at the beginning of February 2021. Find the print version of Mind the Gap at cafes across Melbourne, or order a copy from our webshop and pay only postage costs.