We'll definitely never be featured on "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous" (if it even exists any more- TV free freak that I am, I couldn't really tell you without using google) but we are certainly eating some delicacies. Our beautiful salmon, caught by my intrepid fish slayer as they swam toward the mouth of the Kenai river, yielded several skeins of perfect orangy-red roe. I had never worked with roe before- I just knew I liked it in sushi and toast points with mayo and on potatoes with sour cream. Even though I love the taste and I know how incredibly nutritious it is I don't buy the stuff: Its expensive!
Now that I had the raw ingredients in hand I knew that I needed to figure it out and that I was not using them for bait. That would be like pouring a cup of 100 year old Scotch on a pile of corn when out deer hunting! I 'did the google' and got a basic idea then went to work.
First, I soaked the whole skeins in very salty warm water. I didn't want to cook them so I made sure that it was comfortable on my skin and that the salt was thoroughly dissolved in the water. I left them in that bath for about an hour before I began the next step.
The second phase is de-membraning. I won't lie: it's a pain. It took me over an hour to do the 6 skeins of roe and I lost about 20% of the eggs while doing it...and there were still a few little pieces left in there. It is very important to remove all of the vein and not leave any bloody bits in (according to internet articles- I have no idea why). I used the tip of my fillet knife to ease off as much as I could but the stuff doesn't go smoothly.
I placed my membrane-free eggs in a mesh strainer and rinsed them well and picked out big pieces of membrane I'd missed the first time then let them drain while I mixed up my curing brine. There are a variety of recipes out there. I used:
1 cup fine sea salt
1 cup sucanat
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup vodka
4 cups warm water
mix your brine ingredients in a bowl just a little bigger than your strainer full of eggs and make sure that the salt and sucanat are fully dissolved. Gently pour the eggs into the brine and add a little water if you need to make sure that all the eggs are fully covered.
I left mine to cure for about an hour then drained off the brine and packed the caviar into small ziploc bags. I made sure that the air was all pressed out but was careful to try not to break any of the little eggs. Then I placed those bags into another bag as an extra layer of protection against freezer burn and popped them in the freezer.
So far, I've taken one frozen bag out and used that roe. It was good in texture and taste and defrosted very quickly. It was also a big hit at the sushi party we attended last night.
Pictures coming as soon as the camera can be made to work properly.
A post on homemade lox tomorrow.