This recipe for Greek taramasalata (fish roe dip) is made without bread and is as easy as it gets! The texture is like mayo and you can serve it as a dip or a savory spread.
Taramasalata is a fish roe dip usually served in Greece during Lent. However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t make it throughout the year, especially if you want to serve it with some baked octopus, fried zucchini chips or as part of a Greek meze platter.
Taramasalata or Taramosalata comes from the Greek words “tarama” which means fish roe and salata which means salad (note that the Greeks borrowed the word tarama from Turkish).
This recipe for taramosalata is in fact my second best favorite, just after this homemade taramasalata with bread (in this bread-version article you can also see a close-up shot of fish roe if you don’t know how it looks).
Taramosalata without bread is even easier than the bread-version and it’s almost like making homemade mayonnaise.
I make it whenever I have guests that can’t eat gluten or when I want something fancier because it’s more delicate and light.
The ingredients for Greek Taramosalata without bread
Tarama (fish roe). There are two types of fish roe that are used for taramosalata. The white one (actually beige in color) and the red one. If you can find both, it’s best to chose the white tarama because it’s the authentic fish roe from cod or carp fish. The red one is of lower quality and most of the times has a lot of additives. If you want your taramasalata to have a pinkish color you can use a mix of white and a bit of red tarama.
Onion. The onion is optional, but I advise to use at least a small quantity because it helps with the consistency. Usually red onion is used because it’s milder in taste but if you only have the white variety you can also use that. There’s also the option to cook the onion briefly with some oil until it softens and gets a mellower flavor, but I never do that because it’s more of a fuss.
Lemon juice. Not much to say here, except that you should always use freshly squeezed lemon juice. Feel free to add more lemon juice if you like your taramosalata more tangy.
Oil. Olive oil is too strong for this recipe and can also impart a bitter taste. For the best results it’s best to use a neutral tasting vegetable oil (like sunflower oil or corn oil). I only use a small quantity of olive oil just for the health benefits and the rest is corn oil.
Water. The water should be cold from the fridge and it’s used to fix the texture and make the taramasalata lighter.
How to make taramosalata without bread
The consistency of this fish roe dip is a lot similar to mayonnaise and actually, if you think about it, the basic ingredients are (fish) eggs and oil.
So, the basic steps to make taramasalata are:
- Blend the fish roe with some lemon juice, water and olive oil. Use a blender, a food processor or an immersion blender to break the fish eggs and get a homogenized mixture.
- Add the vegetable oil gradually. Start by adding very small quantities of oil. If you add a lot of oil at once the mixture may curdle.
- Depending on the type of fish roe, the taramasalata may become too thick. Add cold water gradually, until it reaches a fluffy (but not watery) consistency. If you use a blender you may have to stop and scrape the bowl several times. This is normal.
- Taste the taramasalata and if it seems too salty add some more vegetable oil. If it gets too thick continue by adding a bit of water accordingly.
How long does this taramasalata last
Taramasalata should be stored in the fridge inside an airtight container. Because it is high in fat and salt it keeps well and should last at least 6-7 days in the fridge.
How to serve Taramaslata
As a dip. Taramasalata is usually served in a shallow plate or bowl as part of a meze spread, and the plate is usually adorned with just a few black olives. Most of the times fresh bread and pita is dipped in taramasalata but you can always try other things like fresh vegetables or french fries.
As a sauce. Taramasalata can complement seafood dishes like calamari and octopus. Greek baked chickpeas can also benefit when served with a tablespoon of taramasalata on the side.
As a condiment. Try to use it instead of mayo in your sandwiches.
Foods to pair taramosalata with
Some of the dishes you can serve taramosalata with are:
Octopus dishes like this Mediterranean baked octopus
Grilled calamari and cuttlefish
Dolmades (Greek stuffed vine leaves)
- 80 grams (5 tablespoons) white tarama – fish roe from cod or carp fish
- 1/4 red onion
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (you may need more)
- 2 tablespoons cold water
- 1/4 cup (60 grams) mild olive oil
- 1 1/2 cups (360 grams) corn oil or sunflower oil
- 1/4– 1/3 cups (60-80 grams) cold water
Transfer the tarama, the onion, the lemon juice, the 2 tablespoons of water and the olive oil to the bowl of your blender and blend until smooth. You can also use an immersion blender with a tall, narrow bowl or a food processor.
With the blender running, start adding the corn oil (or sunflower oil) in a very thin stream. The mixture will start to thicken gradually. If the mixture thickens too much, add a bit of cold water to loosen it up (if you use a blender you'll need to stop and scrape the bowl several times until all of the oil is absorbed. Don't worry, this is normal).
Once you've added all of the oil, test the taste and texture. If you like it more tangy add some more lemon juice. If you want it thinner, add enough water until it reaches the consistency you want ( I usually add 1/4 cups of water at this stage).
Taste the taramasalata again. If it’s too salty, continue by adding more oil and water accordingly.