Little Orange Jewels

It’s that time of year again when my family’s home is filled with the scent of smoked fish. This smell instantly transports me to my childhood summers with endless days of light, playing in our enchanted woods out back and downing smoked salmon like it was candy.

Each year my father buys fresh king salmon, cleans it on top of the hot tub on the deck, fillets it and smokes it to perfection. The added bonus to his smoked salmon is silky, salty roe. As a child, the thought of eating salmon eggs was beyond revolting, but recently my adult tastes can’t seem to get enough.

Preparing the roe is simple. You’ll need a piece of 1/4-inch wire mesh grate. It looks like really small chicken wire. The holes need to be about the size of the salmon eggs. You can find it at any hardware store.

Here’s how my father does it:

Remove roe from female fish. Push the roe through the mesh grate using your hands. Doing this will remove the membrane from the eggs.

Prepare a bowl of very cold water that is super saturated with non-iodized salt. This is a basic brine.

Pour the separated eggs into the bowl of brine. Stir occasionally. Depending on the species of salmon (that is, the size of the eggs) they will be ready in 15-30 minutes. Start checking them at 15 minutes by removing a tablespoon of eggs, placing them in a tiny mesh strainer, rinsing off the salt with cold water and tasting them. When they are salty enough for your satisfaction they are done. If too salty, pour the eggs into a bowl of unsalted cold water, which will reverse the process, and de-salt the eggs.

When the eggs are ready to your taste pour them into a large strainer, and rinse them for a minute or two with cold water spray from your kitchen sink, turning the eggs over several times with your hands to remove excess salt.

Take the strainer with the eggs and place it in a large bowl, which has an inverted small saucer in the bottom to keep the strainer from touching the bottom of the bowl. Fill a gallon Ziploc bag with cold water, and put the bag on top of the strainer and put it in the fridge overnight or for 12 hours. This will remove excess water and compress the product.

Place roe into jars and serve with Carr’s crackers and chilled white wine.

Mom enjoying king salmon roe

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