Tarama Spread (Taramosalata) or Smoked Herring (Rengosalata)

Fortunately, now we can get good quality carp roe –a far cry from the salty and tasteless, red-dyed one– so you can choose to make either taramosalata, or the more smoky-pungent rengosalata, using herring eggs, if you find them, or just the smoked fillets for the spread.



Mine is not pink, but light green, as I use almost the entire, juicy scallions from my garden. The recipe evolved from my mother’s rengosalata –smoked herring or kipper spread– the meze she always served on Kathari Deftera (clean Monday), instead of the more common taramosalata.

An official holiday, Clean Monday marks the end of the Carnival and the beginning of spring. It is probably the continuation of ancient pagan feasts that have been incorporated to the Christian tradition. People eat outdoors —even if the moving feast happens on a cold February day— they fly kites, consume lots of wine and ouzo, and dance until sunset.  See MORE here, and also in my previous post about some of the food I had prepared, and if you like, read a more extensive account about the customs and roots of this unusual Greek feast, and also about the lunch I had organized at the Oxford Symposium inspired by Kathari Deftera.


Makes about 4 cups.

2/3 – 1 cup (about 120 grams) good quality pale (NOT pink) tarama or cured fish roe or thinly sliced smoked herring fillet and/or roe (see note)
2-3 medium-small potatoes, peeled, boiled and mashed (about 2  1/2cups mashed potatoes)

4-5 scallions, white and most of the green part, coarsely chopped
¼ -1/2 cup fresh lemon juice, or more, to taste
½ cup light olive oil

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
Crusty fresh bread or thin toasted baguette slices, for serving


Put 2/3 cup tarama or smoked herring, half the mashed potatoes, ¼ cup lemon juice and the scallions in the bowl of a blender or food processor. Process to a coarse paste. With the motor running pour in slowly the light olive oil and then half the extra virgin, until you have a thick creamy paste. Taste and add more tarama or herring, and/or more potato, to get the taste you like, adding the rest of the olive oil and more lemon juice to brighten the spread.

Keep in mind that the flavor should be quite strong, fishy and lemony, as the spread is going to be served with bread.

Transfer to a bowl cover and refrigerate for a few hours or, better, overnight.

Serve with fresh bread or toasts.


NOTE: What Greeks call tarama, is the salted and cured roe of the cod, carp, or grey mullet. It is processed and imported to Greece in bulk usually from Iceland. In the US importers of Greek products used to sell the inferior quality, red-died tarama. You don’t need to use this; just get any kind of good quality cured fish roe, or the carp roe (tarama) packaged by Krinos.



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