As one who strives to live a self-subsistence lifestyle in regard to the food my family and I eat, we try to make it a point to utilize as much of the wild game and fish that we harvest as possible. This is especially the case with the salmon that is a big part of our diet, as every part of this fish is loaded with powerful, high-quality nutrients. Along with eating the primary fillets of the fish, salmon heads can be made into a delicious soup, the skin can be baked into a delicate, bacon-like snack for either humans or pets, and the leftover bones and scrap meat can be used as garden fertilizer or boiled down and processed into a variety of fish meal products. Another often underutilized part of salmon is the roe/eggs from the female fish. While many local fishermen harvest and cure the eggs and use them for bait to catch more fish, the roe can also be turned into a wonderful delicacy: caviar! By the way, it’s also interesting to note that the head/brain, skin, and roe are the most preferred parts of the salmon by the bears that feast on them throughout the summer. When there is a large, fresh run of salmon entering a river, bears will often devour these tasty parts first and not even touch the main flesh of the fish until later.
Now technically, true caviar, the super expensive stuff that’s snobbishly served at fancy dinner parties on silver trays, is actually made from salted sturgeon eggs. However, the term caviar is still often used in reference to the salted roe of other species, such as salmon. I have to admit, I was not too hot on the idea of eating fish eggs the first time it was offered to me. This seems to be the case for most folks. While I’ve always thought that fish roe is rather interesting and even beautiful to look at, it’s just a little weird eating something with the texture of tapioca, with translucent little balls filled with pure fish oil and such. However, after I put my preconceived notions aside and actually tried it, I absolutely loved it and started making it often. Not only is it fantastically delicious as an appetizer or snack, it is off-the-charts healthy! Salmon roe is loaded with pure, fresh, heart and brain healthy Omega 3, antioxidants, vitamins D, B12, C, E, as well as other nutrients such as selenium, folate, and thiamine.
Salmon Roe Caviar Recipe
Making salmon roe caviar is a piece of cake…that is, if you have easy access to salmon roe. If you don’t, you can sometimes purchase it at a specialty fish or sushi market, or, you can still use this recipe with the eggs of fish that are more available in your area. Trout roe, for example, makes a nice substitute. The following recipe is one that I learned and adapted from my good friends at Alpenview Wilderness Lodge. Here is how to make it…
Step #1 – If harvesting roe directly from the fish you catch, first bleed the fish out by cutting the gills. (This is a practice that should be done on any fish you harvest and intend to eat.) Next, remove and place the egg skeins immediately in a plastic bag and chill them as soon as possible. Do not rinse them in water upon removal from fish (especially salt water), as this will prematurely start the curing process.
Step #2 – Mix a solution of 2 cups water and ¼ cup of salt and mix thoroughly. This will be enough brine for one small to medium sized pair of egg skeins. If preparing very large egg skeins, or making a larger quantity of roe caviar, multiply the brine mixture as needed.
Step #3 – Separate the eggs and place them in the brine solution by gently rubbing the skein over a dull screen material/surface. A tennis racket works great for this step…which I didn’t have handy for this video.
Step #4 – Let the eggs soak in the brine for 15-20 minutes and periodically stir.
Step #5 – Pour eggs and brine through a strainer. Place eggs, strainer, and bowl into the refrigerator overnight to continue to strain away all remaining water and cover with plastic wrap.
Step #6 – After straining in the refrigerator overnight, serve chilled roe caviar on crackers with optional sour cream (or plain Greek yogurt as a substitute), finely chopped red onions, fresh lemon juice, capers, or any other toppings one may desire.
Step #7 – Enjoy and repeat!
To watch the video version of this recipe, click here.
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Recommended cooking gear – Click on the photos for more info