I'll start with a life lesson: don't eat taramasalata before a facial. My failure to abide by this resulted in the most middle class of all middle class problems. What should have been a relaxing experience started to become nerve wracking when I was lying on the therapists bed and my mind wandered from the whale music and I realised that I probably smell of the large quantities of fish roe and garlic I had just snaffled. Should I 'fess up? Would this make the situation weirder? Or just keep my mouth clamped shut for the entirety of the session? I'm a Brit through and through so went with the second, more cowardly option. Similarly, don't eat taramasalata before an eye examination, before playing Chinese whispers or "pass-the-orange-using-only-your-chin", a job interview, getting your fringe cut or a date. In fact, don't touch the fishy stuff before any close face to face encounter with another human being.
That said absolutely DO make taramasalata. I now put taramasalata in the same category as Turkish delight: you think you don't like it, you have had the bright pink stuff forced upon you to much revulsion but it turns out the real stuff is nothing like the aggressively flavoured interlopers of the 80s. Just like Turkish delight, when you make it yourself, taramasalata is more velvety, more unctuous, and both far more delicately flavoured and coloured. Forget the luridly pink gritty paste and imagine being french kissed by a mermaid. A really sexy but slightly fish mermaid who has had a really good facial.
To whip up this batch we went for the recipe by Tom Kerridge - you can find a copy of it here. We tweaked the recipe slightly, going for a rapeseed oil instead of olive oil. The rationale being that, just as is the case with pesto, pure olive oil can give a bitter flavour and it is better to go for a more neutral flavour leaving the olive oil for drizzling on the top. In a move that is very unlike us, we also held back on the garlic using only two cloves, albeit it plumpcious ones. In retrospect we would have used even less, maybe only one and half.
As recipes go, this one is a cracker. You could happily halve the quantities as the measures in the recipe produce a party sized tub. That is no bad thing as I have found that taramasalata this good happily slathers itself on most breads, is welcomingly mopped up by asparagus and can be daubed on pretty much anything savoury that needs an injection of fishy-velvety-umami. Kerridge serves it with slow cooked pork and flatbreads - more on that later.
Hummous is dead, long live taramasalata.