The lagoon of Messolonghi, the largest wetland complex of Greece, is a natural paradise of islets, dunes, forests on the banks and a rich flora and fauna that provide salt and fish to the locals. But the precious secret of its salty and shallow arms is the renowned avgotaraho.
What is it?
It is one of the few seafood products with a PDO (Protected Designation of Origin), a delicacy coming from the mass of eggs of the female grey mullet.
Amber in colour, delicious in taste and unique in aroma, it is deservedly regarded as one of the most gourmet gastronomic choices when it comes to seafood. What is more, it constitutes a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, which reinforce body health by acting positively on the cardiovascular system and by strengthening the immune system (JOURNAL OF AGRICULTURAL AND FOOD CHEMISTRY: Chemical Composition of Greek Avgotaraho Harokopio University).
Fishing and producing
Fishing in the farms of the lagoon lasts just two to three weeks until the mid of September: that’s the reproductive period of the grey mullet. Skilful fishermen lay nets to catch the fish, and the stage of producing avgotaraho follows next:
• Using extra sharp knives and with fine movements, the ovaries are removed from the fish.
• Washed with water, the ovaries are natural-sea salted. Some very gentle massaging gives them rectangular shape so as to fit in appropriate cages and dry for a minimum of three days. During that period, they acquire a sweet honey colour.
• The hard slabs are then coated in beeswax for preservation purposes. Nevertheless, consuming it within ten months from its production allows avgotaraho to be as delicious as can be.
After removing the wax, we slice the product in thin pieces. Relish it as an appetizer on toasted bread (bruschetta) with tsipouro, vodka, champagne or some good whiskey. A fresh salad with avocado, onions, lemon juice, pepper and, of course, olive oil won’t be less of a good company for your seafood gastronomic treasure, whereas for a hot delight turn to spaghetti.
Avgotaraho’s exceptional nature has set international delicatessen chefs’ verve afire: they use it in dishes covering a wide range of tastes, from seafood ones (shrimps, lobsters, and roast fish) which is expected, to roasts with honey, soy, grape juice syrup and bay leaves, which is imaginatively surprising. Matching it with some exquisite wine from Santorini will send your flavouring experience on cloud nine. But whatever your choice, don’t deprive your palate of the sensational experience of avgotaraho melting slowly in your mouth!