Creamed herring roe (like a taramasalata), 38p

Creamed herring roe... I had mine atop a runny-yolked warm boiled egg with a little bit of chopped spring onion on top, but this is only a serving suggestion - there are many many ways to enjoy this. Dip a pitta in, smear it on toast, lick it off your fingers or eat it straight from the spoon, or leave your suggestions below...

Creamed herring roe… I had mine atop a runny-yolked warm boiled egg with a little bit of chopped spring onion on top, but this is only a serving suggestion – there are many many ways to enjoy this. Dip a pitta in, smear it on toast, lick it off your fingers or eat it straight from the spoon, or leave your suggestions below…

I’m mad about herring roe, but since I moved away from sunny Southend to the tropical climes of London last year, I hadn’t seen it in any of my local supermarkets. I even strayed away from the big orange one to a blue one and a green one in search of a cheap can of this salty, creamy goodness (oo-er…ah, I’ll keep it in.) But alas, apart from Seriously Expensive cans of it, it was nowhere to be found.

So IMAGINE my delight when last week, picking up a tin of sardines in the orange shop (supermarket, that is, not the phone provider – showing my age now, “I remember when it was the Orange Shop….” – oh and I digress. That almost never happens)…. Anyway, I found some herring roe. In the same old orange and white Basics tin, and I STOCKPILED it. I even gift wrapped some and gave it to my lovely other half, to lessen the guilt around buying, er, ‘several’ tins of it, as we are huge fans of tinned fish in this house and romance definitely isn’t dead. It takes a fairly secure woman to say I Love You with a can of Sainsburys Basics tinned fish, I can tell you.

Anyway, today, in another expression of undying romance, I set about making something from the herring roe. It’s not a taramasalata, which is a good job really because that is a BUGGER to type – it’s a creamed herring roe spread, and it’s just divine. I had mine as a high protein post-workout snack for my sore muscles, but you can have yours on toast, from a spoon, or however you darn well please. (But I’d totally recommend it splodged onto a soft boiled egg with a little bit of finely chopped onion and some black pepper…) For those of you who care about protein, one little can has a whopping 19g – equivalent to three eggs. And the soft cheese adds a little more… Beats a thick and lumpy chemical-laden protein shake any day of the week. I tried almost every brand of protein shake when I was in the Fire Service, and yeesh, there’s some shockers out there. Although I do have a packet of Pulsin’ Soy Protein living on top of the fridge these days for experimental purposes, I like to get my protein from, er, FOOD these days. Because I like food.

Serves 4 for a snack at 38p each

125g can of herring roe (94g drained weight), £1.35
50g soft cheese, or 2 tbsp mayo, 13p
a small amount of onion, very finely chopped, <1p
1 tbsp lemon juice, 3p
a pinch of salt and a grind of pepper <1p

First drain your herring roe and give it a quick spritz under a cold tap – it’s stored in brine, and some people like the briney taste but I don’t think it belongs in this dish. You may disagree, in which case, don’t rinse it!

Chop it up a bit – I find the side of a teaspoon in a bowl works very well, but a small paring knife on a chopping board would also do the job. Finely chop your onion and mix it in, and add the cream cheese (or mayo) and give it all a good thorough mix until it’s nice and creamy. Add the lemon juice and beat it in, and season to taste.

Pop it into a jar or container in the fridge until you want to eat it – it’s better slightly chilled, but it sometimes never makes it that far in my house…

Prices based on my most recent Sainsburys shop: 125g tin of Basics herring roe, £1.35. Basics soft cheese 75p/300g. Basics onions 95p/1.5kg. Bottled lemon juice 55p/250ml.

Jack Monroe. You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram @MsJackMonroe and find me on facebook at

This blog is free to read and always will be. I wrote some recipe books too, and they’re available to buy at Hive Stores, supporting your local independent book shops. Some of the profits from A Girl Called Jack recently went on a VERY big food shop, restocking a local food bank who had run out of food, so if you can afford to, you get a cookbook, I make a living, and hungry families get fed too. Check it out at


    • I really regret that your blog is in English, because the google translator, it’s not terrible, and it is far from capture all the nuances of your recipes. anyway thank you for giving us the benefit of your recipes. I hope one day to read your blog in French.
      je regrette vraiment que votre blog soit en anglais, parce que le traducteur google, c’est pas terrible, et on est loin de saisir toutes les nuances de vos recettes. merci quand meme de nous faire profiter de vos recettes. j’espere un jour pouvoir lire votre blog en francais.

  1. I am SUCH a taramasalata fan! It is my secret girl-time food (e.g., it is best enjoyed on my own, smeared onto Ryvita whilst watching TV in my pants). Can’t wait to try this recipe!

  2. You and your recipes speak to my ‘cooking yummy things on a budget’ heart. Great stuff, as ever, Jack.

  3. Lovely!

    I hate spending much money on taramasalata that just tastes of fish oil and rice pudding and hate spending even more money on taramasalata that tastes half good, so this may be the way to go!

  4. I live in Belgium and didn’t know what Herring Roe was, so I looked up the translation, it told & showed me a caviarish substance, did some research and found out you are using the male Herring Roe, the female one is like caviar (little eggs), the male one has more substance, warm greetings Frank:))

  5. I LOVE herring roe. Grew up in the UK with Mum pan frying it for tea on toast. Sadly virtually impossible to buy in Australia. When the family visits 6 cans of JW herring roe is their stipend or boarding fee. Load up my luggage when I visit. Fresh trevally roe just doesn’t cut it!

    Sadly my stock has run out so can’t try this recipe just now!

  6. I trotted off to the orange supermarket to buy some basics herring roe to make this as I’d never tried it before and I am a tinned fish fan. I bought two tins! I had mine with oatcakes. Nice, but I love sardines more. On the salty side, so when I make it again I won’t add extra salt.

  7. I’m aching to try this but just how much is ” a small amount of onion” ? I don’t want to overdo it!

  8. I’ve tried this and it’s good. It says on the tin that it will keep for a day in the fridge once opened.

  9. I know waitrose has a reputation for being expensive, but they sell herring roe for under a fiver a kilo. (as opposed to over £14 per kilo, drained weight in the tins) It comes 1kg blocks and is available at the fish counter in the Balham branch. If they sell it defrosted it is full price, if you buy it frozen they reduce the price by about a fifth. I cook it lightly in butter and garlic (about a minute or two on a medium gas) and call it poor-persons scallops. yummy

  10. Read this post aaaaaages ago and filed it away in my head as ‘something to try’. A couple years later, and the price of the tinned orange version having roughly doubled… I finally picked a can up last week. Looking forward to trying it! Thank you for introducing ‘herring roe’ into my vocabulary!

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