I have always loved caviar, the slight briny flavor of the sea with a unique texture of the eggs, first loose on your tongue, then the burst of flavor as each egg pops open. There are not a lot of recipes or techniques that share how fish eggs are transformed into the luxurious caviar. I’m sure you’ve looked this up on the internet and seen how to make fish eggs into bait. This is not what you don’t want to do or eat.
This is a recipe that will become a wonderful base recipe and show you the step by step technique of transforming salmon roe (eggs) into caviar. If you have a friend or family member who fishes for Salmon, ask them if you can have the roe (only in the female salmon). If this isn’t an option, contact your local fishmonger and during Salmon season (in the month of May) and order some.
This technique can be used with all types of pacific wild salmon (King [Chinnock], Silver [Coho], Red [Sockeye], Pink [Humpy] or Chum [Dog]). Not that the name would make you think so, but Chum salmon has some of the best roe to make caviar, as their egg sacks or skeins are full flavored and large in size.
A single skein (egg sake) will weight around a pound and make about 16 ounces of salmon caviar. To get more information on wild Alaskan salmon, please check out our friends at Copper River Salmon.
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Serves: 16 Guests
To begin, in a stainless steel or glass bowl large enough to hold 3 ½ quarts; add the kosher salt and 3 quarts of 100°F/38°C degree water, whisking until the salt has dissolved. Next, unwrap the skein or egg sack if bought from a fish market or remove from the fish if you are a fisherman. Rinse the skein under cool running water, cleaning the sack of any residual blood.
You will notice a thin membrane that holds the roe in the sack.
Add the sack to the brine mixture.
When you add the skein to the salt brine, the membrane and eggs will turn from a clear reddish orange to a cloudy orange color.
This is the salt reacting with the membrane. Make sure that the skein is fully covered by the brine. Let this sit for 30 minutes, to cure the eggs.
Have a second stainless steel or glass bowl ready with a strainer or small colander. After 30 minutes, remove the skein from the brine, reserving the brine for later. Add the sack to the bowl and rinse off the brine under warm water.
Next, the membrane needs to be removed. Using your fingers, pick the membrane and pull away from you, making sure the skein is under the bowl and strainer.
Inside the sack are smaller membranes holding the eggs together. These also must be removed.
Once all the membranes have been removed from the eggs, the eggs must be rinsed several times, to remove any other membranes that might be on each egg.
A fine skimmer or other sieve will make this process.
After you have removed all the membranes and rinsed the eggs well, drip the roe into the reserved salt brine again. The color of the eggs will turn from cloudy...
...to clear. It's like magic.
Strain the eggs out of the brine and add to a clean glass jar. This caviar should last for 7-14 days if refrigerated at 34 degrees or below. To keep the caviar as long as possible, place the jar into a container of crushed ice, keeping it colder than the standard refrigerator is set too. Do not freeze the caviar or the texture will be ruined.
Variations and Other Uses for this Recipe:
This recipe is simply a basic brine with not a lot of external flavor, other than the dominant essence of the salmon eggs. If you would like to add some complexity, try the Tripel Cured Salmon Caviar or Firestone Walker Double DBA Cured Salon Caviar recipe. This caviar isn’t as salty as commercial caviars, which I like better. Because of the lack of salt and curing of the roe, this caviar will only last about 2 weeks.
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