River Farm Smokery, Bottisham – home-made taramasalata

This sticky pair of sci-fi slippers isn’t some poor creature’s lungs. It’s my supper – a beautifully smoked chunk of cod’s roe from River Farm Smokery, a couple of miles outside Cambridge. Dan, the smokery’s production manager, contacted me a couple of weeks ago and whetted my appetite with a pack of some exceptionally fine smoked salmon. I dropped in on Thursday and bought a selection of the fish on offer in the smokery’s little shop. (I shall be back shortly to throw myself upon the meat counter and the smoked olives – everything I came home with was seriously, seriously good.)

Cambridge and Newmarket readers take note – this place is on your doorsteps, and if my experience is anything to go by, you don’t know it’s there. Dan keeps a blog about the smokery, on which there is a handy map, so you have no excuse. The shop also carries a really thoughtful range of delicatessen products, and if that’s not enough to convince you, the glorious smoked salmon actually costs less than it does at the supermarket.

Dan showed me around the smokery; I’ll go back soon with a camera. Hot and cold kilns, thick, fragrant tar, bags of oak chippings, eels, olives – and my God, the soft, downright seductive smell of all that smoke. Someone should bottle it and sell it. (It is my sad duty to report that Stilton cheesemakers have done the same and are trying to market the smell of feet as a ladies’ perfume.)

Alongside the smoked salmon, trout, eels and an excellent mackerel pate were more unusual offerings, including these roe – peeled and released from their tough skins in this picture, so you can make out the mass of tiny eggs. Dan says that he sells a lot of these roe for spreading as they are on toast. I decided to use them for taramasalata. Some taramasalata recipes will tell you to soak the whole roe before peeling, but I didn’t find that necessary with these, which weren’t over-salted. If you are in Greece, use pressed, salted grey mullet roe. If, like me, you have never seen a pressed, salted grey mullet roe, go with the smoked cod’s roe. It’s fantastic.

To serve four, you’ll need:

  • 4 slices white bread
  • ½ cup smoked cod’s roe, skin removed
  • 1 clove garlic
  • ½ red onion
  • Juice of 1 ½ lemons
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Black pepper to taste

Grate the onion and garlic and put in the food processor with the bread, roe, pepper and lemon juice. Whizz until everything is smooth, and with the blades still whirring, dribble the olive oil into the mixture in a thin stream, as if you are making mayonnaise. When everything is amalgamated, transfer to a bowl, and refrigerate for half an hour for the flavours to meld. Serve with strips of pitta bread and raw vegetables. The taramasalata will keep in the fridge for around a week.

While you eat, consider the fact that despite the pink roe and the red onion, this is not remotely as pink as the factory-processed stuff you’ll get in supermarkets and, sadly, in many restaurants. There’s a reason for that. It’s called food colouring. Oh – and Alban, who asked me for more quick recipes, should be pleased to learn that he can make this in under half an hour, so no more excuses; get cooking.

8 Replies to “River Farm Smokery, Bottisham – home-made taramasalata”

  1. I’d love to try this. I’ve always fancied going to a smokery. Hugh F-W went to one in his River Cottage series, and it looked incredible. I love all things smoked, so if I come over to Cam in the future, I might pop over x

  2. That looks delicious. I intend to prepare it as soon as possible, and invite my family round to sample it. I am convinced my mother will love it (Mummy – you are in for a treat from your dotting son!). Yes, like you, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with calling your mother Mummy, as I do, and I’m 32.

  3. This looks delicious, and I’m pleased to see it’s so straightforward to make. Will be beetling off to Bottisham as soon as possible! And with respect to the ‘Mummy’ conversation, I’m rapidly approaching 30 and I still call my mother Mutti (German for Mummy: I grew up there). There’s nowt wrong with ‘Mummy’ in my book!

  4. Thank you Lorna for your approval. It is reassurring that both Squeezeweasel and yourself refer to your mothers as ‘Mummy’, as I have been brought up to say Mummy and never Mum (too common) or Mother (too formal). Even as a male, at 32 years of age, I think ‘Mummy’ is a more endearing term.

  5. Well, I live in Dallas, Texas and was given a small tin of Prince’s pressed cod’s roe by a good English friend of mine – so with nothing better to do with it, I will be trying that taramasalata recipe on it. There are a number of Greek eating places here, but for some strange reason they invariably don’t serve this wonderful dish, which I primarily recall from various places on Greek Street, London during my earlier years there as a flat dweller in several locations around town. At least there are now several middle-eastern markets here where I can now buy it – but, I can’t leave that cod’s roe on the shelf any longer.

  6. We just tried this recipe with the smoked cod roe from Bottisham and it was fantastic. We served it with pitta, hummus, salad, lamb kofte (very easy and very tasty) as part of a Greek themed evening and it was the stand-out piece. Very nice indeed.

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