Tarama, cured fish roe, usually that of carp, is the base of this dish, one of the great Greek mezedes. (Although one may think that tarama is imported to the U.S. from Greece, I have learned that most of it makes its way to Greece from Norway. The cheapest types are often tinted pink to enhance their appearance.) The combination of potatoes and almonds beaten into the roe creates a fluffy, gently flavored emulsion that can serve as a dip, a sauce, or a filling. This recipe came from a friend who got it from a store owner in Astoria, Queens, a New York Greek neighborhood.
Most people now use a food processor to blend the mixture, which tends to liquify rather than emulsify. To achieve the best texture and flavor, you really should use a meat grinder as we do at Molyvos. If you don’t have one, first grind the almonds in a food processor, finely dice the onions by hand, and then pulse the two together for only a second or two to combine. Put the cooked potatoes through a potato ricer or food mill and then combine them with the almond/onion mixture by hand. Then, and only then, should you proceed with finishing the recipe!
OccasionBuffet, Casual Dinner Party, Cocktail Party
Equipmentelectric mixer, food mill, food processor
Taste and Texturenutty, rich, salty
Type of Dishdip/spread, seafood sauce
- 2 ounces whole almonds
- 2 cups plus 3 tablespoons corn oil
- One ½-pound Idaho potato, boiled in its skin, peeled, and chilled
- ¼ medium yellow onion
- ¼ pound tarama (carp roe)
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/3 cup lemon juice concentrate
- 4 to 6 tablespoons seltzer water
- Warm pita bread triangles for serving
Place the almonds in a heatproof bowl with boiling water to cover. Let stand until the water is tepid. Drain well and, using your fingertips, pop off and discard the skins.
Line a small tray or baking sheet with parchment or wax paper. Place the peeled almonds on the prepared tray and refrigerate for about 8 hours or overnight.
Preheat the oven to 200°F.
Remove the almonds from the refrigerator and place on a small baking pan. Transfer to the preheated oven and bake for about 15 minutes, just to dry slightly. Do not roast.
Pour about 1 teaspoon of the corn oil into a medium mixing bowl and, using your fingertips, rub the oil around the interior of the bowl to coat lightly.
Combine the almonds with the potato and onion in the oiled bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of the oil and toss to coat, mashing the potato slightly and pulling the onion apart.
Working with about one third of the almond mixture at a time, pass it through an electric mixer fitted with the fine grinder attachment or through a stand-alone meat grinder into the oiled bowl, allowing the food to pass through the grinder completely before adding the next third. This will prevent clogging. The consistency should be of a coarse meal.
When all of the mixture has been ground, remove the grinder attachment from the mixer and fit the mixer with the bowl and paddle.
Place the tarama in the mixer bowl and, with the mixer on low speed, begin beating the tarama, adding the remaining corn oil in a slow, steady stream. Then add the extra virgin olive oil in a slow, steady stream. When well blended, remove the paddle attachment and change to the wire whip. Continuing to mix on medium speed, add the lemon juice in a slow, steady stream.
. When well blended, stop the motor, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and add the almond mixture. With the mixer on low speed, slowly combine the mixtures.
. When well combined, begin adding the seltzer, an ounce at a time, until the taramasalata is as light and airy as light, fluffy mashed potatoes.
. Transfer to a nonreactive storage container, cover, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving with warm pita triangles.
2006 James T. Botsacos Jr.