Fish Roe Is A Tasty Treat: The Humble Fish Egg Is Prized as a Savory Addition or as an Entree

Though it may help to be rich and famous in order to afford caviar on a regular basis, mere mortals can enjoy a similar delicacy by harvesting the roe from their next catch of sport fish. Salmon, trout and even panfish yield sparkling sacs teeming with eggs that can be the star of the meal or provide a perfectly rich counterpoint to a simple dish.

Fish Roe and Caviar

Russia may have perfected the technique for preserving the prized roe of sturgeon, but other cultures have a wide variety of traditional dishes that use this excellent source of nutrition from game-caught fish. The Greek taramasalata and several Italian pasta dishes, for example, show off these flavorful morsels spectacularly.

Some domestic operations have begun to make roe from salmon, trout, whitefish and other game species into a regional version of caviar. While caviar is valued according to the size of egg harvested, with a premium on a specific rather small diameter, the domestic version is typically a larger egg.

These golden-orange orbs practically explode in the mouth, unleashing a bold salty, slightly fishy egg yolk flavor that bathes the palate.

Brining Fish Roe

A quick Web search yields dozens of recipes for using fish eggs in a variety of ways. Many feature simple brining techniques for infusing the roe with a special tanginess that provides a burst of flavor. Brined roe add a sense of the sea to omelets, pasta dishes, spreads, dips and other fare.

Before brining, be certain to remove the sac. This membrane envelopes the entire skein, nature’s way of keeping the eggs safe during the spawning run. Some species, mostly larger fish, also have similar membranes inside the skein.

Sauteed Fish Roe

One of the more straightforward ways of enjoying the roe is simple and fast. That’s a quick saute in a moderately hot pan with a little butter. In this case, there is no need to remove the sac. In fact, it’s best to leave it intact to hold the eggs together as they begin cooking.

Perhaps the most popular form of this recipe starts with carefully but generously dusting the skein of roe with flour seasoned with salt and pepper. For a bright, savory flavor use sea salt and fresh-ground black pepper. Heat the butter until hot but not brown.

Saute the skeins two to three minutes on each side. Then, reduce the heat to medium low and cook for a total of 10 minutes per inch of thickness.

Fish Roe Makes Great Camp Meals

Served up with a side of fried potatoes and onions, sauteed roe makes a great meal for fishing camp. Leftover roe makes excellent wraps with any favorite accompaniments and condiments, or they can be sliced for a filling for sandwiches to take for a snack during the next outing on the lake or stream. A delicious sandwich spread or salad are other potential uses.

Whatever the preferred culinary approach used, be sure to give the roe a try after the next fishing trip. It may become a staple of camp grub as well as more refined dishes back home. When cleaning the catch, remember – don’t throw the roe.

Donald S. Cochran

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