According to Hamid Salimain, the chef at Diva at the Met, the best quality salmon roe comes from chum salmon followed in order by pink, coho, spring, and sockeye. This is ironic, in a way, as this list is the reverse order of best tasting Pacific salmon fillets.
The reason being, chum salmon produces the largest eggs with the most melt-in-your-mouth quality. They’re at their best in October when the fish are nearing maturity and are ready to swim upstream to spawn. It’s at this point that the eggs are actually worth more than the fish that hold them.
In order to achieve a number one grade, the egg sacks, otherwise known as skeins, should have a milky pale-pink hue and must be free of bile stains and visible blood vessels. The individual eggs should be large and well-defined through the skein, with no glossy opaque points, which are signs of freezer burn or freshwater contamination. The skein should be easy to open, like a book. Ideally, there shouldn’t be too much connective tissue between the eggs (a sign of immaturity), but not so easy that the eggs spill out of their own accord (a sign of over-maturity).
Step one: When making your own caviar, rub the eggs out of their skein. This is usually done on a taut, mesh screen with holes slightly larger than the diameter of the eggs (though we’ve found that our deep fryer screen works just as well).
Step two: Marinate or brine the eggs. To marinate them (as we do in the restaurant), you first choose a medium flavour (soy, sake, smoke, etc.), add it to the eggs and let sit. Be sure there is about 20 % marinade in proportion to the weight of the eggs and that there’s anywhere from 2% to 10% salt (depending on your taste) in proportion to the weight of the liquid and eggs combined.
Smoked Salmon Roe Recipe:
- 500g salmon roe, rubbed free from their skein
- 100g water, smoked two hours in a conventional smoker
- 18g kosher salt
1. Whisk salt into smoked water until fully dissolved.
2. Add smoked water to roe and mix gently by hand.
3. Refrigerate and wait at least three hours before serving.
Recipe Source: Vancouver Sun Food Blog Network