Fish Roe and Fish Liver

Though the flesh of the fish might be a staple of Greek cooking, fish liver and fish roe also many frequent appearances atop the Greek kitchen table.

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Greeks savor not only the flesh of the fish, but also its liver and roe. Some fish, like the sea bream, have livers as large as sheep liver. Fish liver resembles animal liver in shape, often times also in size, but can best be distinguished by its color. It tends towards shades of ash or grey, and is usually more tender than chicken liver.

Some fish, like the fresh cod and the monkfish, have highly nutritious livers. In fact, all of the large fish have tasty, healthy livers, except for the bonito, whose liver should be avoided due to its incredibly high fat content. Unlike other large fish, the liver of the mackerel is quite small, and Greeks must combine hundreds of mackerel livers in order to produce their exceptional relish known as “garos.”

Whereas fish liver must always be eaten boiled, fish roe must be eaten fried. Nevertheless, roe from the grey mullet is prepared by curing, thus producing the well-known Messologhi fish roe with its distinctive beeswax wrapping. While the majority of large fish produce very good fish roe, the roe of sea bream and faggri is perhaps the most esteemed. Similarly, sturgeon roe, the substance that produces caviar, is also extraordinary. Sturgeon is found most prominently in Alexandroupolis, a city in northern Greece, and used to produce the unparalleled black caviar.

However, the best roe in Greece actually comes from octopus, not fish. Although salted octopus roe is a superb meze, it is not available on the market. Despite the fact that it cannot be found in grocery shops or fish markets, you might get the chance to try it if you come across a particularly friendly fisherman.

Different types of fish roe (caviar):
-Within your average Greek marketplace, you will most likely be able to find four different types of traditional fish roe:
-Black, which comes from sturgeon roe and is believed to be the finest
-White-Pink, better known in Greece as “tarama.” Tarama, which is produced from the eggs of various fish, is usually eaten raw or as a dip (taramosalata). -Translating roughly to tarama cakes, “taramokeftedes” are prepared just like meat patties, with the primary difference being that tarama is used instead of minced meat. Flour, sautéed onions, and parsley, among other ingredients, are mixed with the tarama to make these delicious patties.
-Salmon roe, known as “bric” in Greece and eaten raw, either plain or mixed with fresh butter
-Caviar tongues, which are salted fish eggs that taste a lot like "tarama."

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