This recipe is one of my current favorites. Not only is it very easy to make, but it’s bursting with flavors coming from salty cured tarama, refreshing lemon juice and zest, and fresh herbs such as dill and parsley. DE-LI-CIOUS. If you are into so called ‘umami-bombs’ and are in love with the intense flavors of ingredients such as fish roe, or other types of cured fish, this dish is made just for you.
So, what is tarama? I have mentioned tarama in a previous post, but in case you missed it: tarama is the salted and cured roe of either cod, carp, or grey mullet. The tiny, salty eggs are most often used as the base for one of Greece’s more popular dips taramosalata, in which tarama (either white, or dyed pink/red) is combined with lemon juice, garlic, olive oil and a starchy base of either bread, or potato to create a lovely, salty and creamy emulsion. While it can be bought and eaten on any day of the year, taramosalata is a real classic during Great Lent (which is now, as I am writing this post) when people abstain from fish, meat and dairy, but roe and certain types of seafood are still permitted.
As a matter of fact, one of my first recipes on this blog was for Greek taramosalata, because I love it so much
and have developed a slight addiction to it. But while I truly love the fishy dip, I believe the tarama itself is too delicious not to be experimented with. While taramosalata is quite popular, I’ve not seen too many other recipes that feature tarama as a main ingredient – except maybe for some fritters – and that is a real pity in my opinion. The intense flavor of the preserved roe is somewhat reminiscent of the umami and brininess of salt-cured anchovies and more expensive caviar, which means it should do really well in many dishes… pasta dishes in particular.
For my recipe in this post, I drew inspiration from two rather simple dishes that consist of only a few ingredients, but that have intense, bold flavours nonetheless. In my opinion, on certain
lazy days, there’s nothing more enjoyable than a simple bowl of spaghetti with lots of briny anchovies, garlic, maybe some chili and fresh herbs. I was equally inspired by Japanese tarako– or mentaiko spaghetti, which is another uncomplicated dish consisting mostly of silky strands of spaghetti covered in a sauce made with Japanese pollock-, or cod roe (either plain salted roe tarako, or spicy marinated roe mentaiko), a splash of cream, and some dried seaweed, or chopped shiso leaf sprinkled on top. Sometime during Lent last year, I decided that there can never be enough variations of such ‘simple but bold’ dishes and it wouldn’t be a bad idea to have a ‘Greek version’ (for Lent and every other day) made with lots of tarama, extra-virgin olive oil, garlic, lemon and fresh herbs such as dill and parsley… and here we are.
Tarama Spaghetti / Μακαρόνια με Ταραμά (Pasta with Greek Fish Roe)
- 120g white tarama
- 90ml olive oil + 1 tablespoon
- 1 lemon, zested and juiced (about 50ml)
- 400g spaghetti
- 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, finely minced
- Bunch of flat leaf parsley (about 40g), chopped
- Small bunch of fresh dill (about 25g), chopped
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Prepare the tarama-sauce: In a small bowl, combine the 90ml olive oil, 120g tarama, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Stir until all the tarama is incorporated into a sauce (meaning, no large lumps). Set aside.
- Boil the pasta: Fill a pot with water and bring to a boil on high heat. Boil spaghetti according to time instructions on the package. When done, drain the pasta, but save about 100ml of the cooking liquid.
- While you boil the water and the pasta, place a large frying pan (large enough to contain the boiled spaghetti later) on medium-high heat. Add a tablespoon of olive oil and sauté the finely minced onion and garlic. When the onion starts to brown and soften, remove pan from heat.
- Combine all ingredients: When the pasta is cooked, transfer to the frying pan together with about 100ml of the cooking liquid. Add the ‘tarama-sauce’. Stir well to coat all strands of pasta in the sauce.
- Finally, add black pepper and stir in the finely chopped parsley and finely chopped dill. Serve immediately.