You might recall my former relationship with fish. Long story short, I wasn't a fan, but now I am. Imagine my reaction when I was asked if I wanted the fish eggs or roe from the salmon I'd sourced. "Ummmm.... sure? I mean yes, yes I absolutely want it." Those were the words that came out of my mouth even though in my head I was thinking, "What the heck am I going to do with fish eggs? And also, "eww." Thank goodness for Google. I mean honestly, where would we all be without it? If there was a degree one could obtain for Googling, I'd have it. Susie Zahratka GE (Googling Expert). Of course my research doesn't end there, but it gives me a jumping off point at the very least.
The first thing I wanted to know, was the reason behind eating fish eggs. Was it a highly sought after delicacy for a particular reason, or just because it could be? Turns out, there are many reasons that roe should be a part of every diet. Salmon roe has the highest amount of Omega 3's than any other food. Remember, since the introduction of vegetable oils, our consumption of Omega 6 fats has sky rocketed in a disproportionate amount to our Omega 3 fats. I talked about that a bit in a past blog entry.
Wild Salmon is high in Omega 3's and lower in Omega 6's than farmed salmon, and salmon eggs have 3 times the amount of Omegs 3's as wild salmon. Traditionally roe was known for its brain and fertility boosting properties. The dentist and researcher, Weston A Price, found that in traditional cultures, fish eggs were highly regarded as a super food that were salted, dried, and eaten by both children and adults. I wish I would have known about these when my first child was beginning to eat!
Anyways, back to preparing fish eggs. I have tried quite a few methods to prepare the roe. My chosen method is certainly not the fastest, but I like it the best. I get fewer broken eggs, and I find separating the skein or membrane from the eggs to be a relaxing task. We receive our roe in 1# packs that are vacuum sealed and frozen. I thaw the packs in the fridge for a day or quick thaw in some cold water.
When it's thawed, I fill a bowl with a brine made with about 6 cups of body temp water and 1 cup of salt. Rinse the skeins with eggs attached and place in the brine.
Set your timer for 35 minutes and walk away.
After 35 minutes, drain the water and rinse the skeins over a strainer topped bowl (to catch any loose eggs). I use warm water here again, but not too warm. Slightly hotter than body temperature is great. Now here's the fun part; separating the eggs from the skein. There is an outer skein that is relatively easy to peel off. Remember to keep everything over your strainer so you don't lose eggs. Once the outer skein is removed, you will notice that the eggs are joined together by inner membranes. With the warm water running, use your fingers to gently roll off as many eggs as you can. I toss the difficult to remove egg-membrane pieces into a warm water bath to soak for a bit while I separate the more cooperative eggs.
This process takes time. It just does. Some people use drying racks or tennis rackets in the separation process, but I don't. I enjoy the feeling of the eggs as the separate from the membrane. I also don't feel like cleaning my drying racks (they are being used for a Hot Wheels obstacle course right now), and I don't own a tennis racket. Someone needs to invent a tiny racket just for this process. Maybe there already is one. If not, there's your million dollar idea. You're Welcome!
Now I won't lie, this process takes awhile. Seperating the eggs from the membrane took me about 40 minutes. Who the heck has 40 minutes for this job? No one. Let me share what also happened within that time; grabbing kids a snack, changing a diaper, opening finger paints, settling a dispute, and washing my hands about 8 times. Still, it's totally worth it. Soon enough you'll have a strainer full of beautiful roe. Rinse gently until no membranes remain.
You can stop there if you want. They are delicious with just the mildest salty flavor from the initial brine. I like mine to brine a second time, so I pour the eggs gently into a glass jar, cover with filtered water and 1/2TB of salt per pint of eggs, put the lid on, and brine it in the fridge for a couple of hours. Drain using a strainer, put the eggs back into a glass container and store in the fridge. This will last in the fridge for a couple of weeks, but honestly it won't last that long. You can eat these beauties straight out of the jar or put them atop eggs prepared any way, or along with cucumber and seaweed as an appetizer. Or, if you are anything like my kids, you won't even wait until they are in the storage container before you start spooning them into your mouth.