How to Make Salmon Caviar

Last month I posted a short recipe for salmon caviar, or roe. In the past week we’ve had record salmon numbers run through the Kenai River. You couldn’t pass a person in the grocery store without hearing the word “salmon” escape his lips. I had coworkers whose fishing group caught 160 reds in two days. My friend’s family caught 60. Basically, if you had a dipnet and you dipped it in the Kenai River Friday, Saturday or Sunday, you’re probably patting your belly because it is full of grilled salmon right now.

In the spirit of all things salmon, I thought I’d post a more detailed tutorial on how to process and then eat salmon roe. So now when your friends go fishing you can have them save their roe when they are gutting and then you’ll reap all the benefits — all the tasty, tasty benefits. And it’s nutritious too!

Thanks Todd and Josh!

What you’ll need:

  • A piece of 1/4-inch wire mesh grate
  • Lots of salmon eggs
  • A carton of kosher salt
  • Cold water
  • Large mesh strainer
  • One gallon freezer Ziploc bag
  • Rubber spatula
  • Non-aluminum mixing spoon
  • Small mesh strainer
  • Two large bowls
  • One small bowl

Place a large bowl in the sink and put the wire mesh over the bowl. Start pushing the eggs through the mesh. This will help separate the membrane from the eggs. You’ll smash some of the eggs, but it’s not a big deal. When you’ve pushed the eggs through as best you can, pick up the membrane and scrape off as many eggs as you’re able. Discard the membrane into a small bowl.

When you’ve pushed all of the eggs through the wire, use a rubber spatula to scrape off the eggs from underneath the mesh. Set the mesh aside for cleaning.

Now fill the other large bowl with very cold water. Add a ton of salt so that there is still salt visible on the spoon when you stir it. This is a basic brine.

Carefully pour the eggs into the brine and stir. Let them sit for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Put a spoonful of eggs into a small strainer and rinse them off with cold water. Taste them. If they don’t taste salty enough, let the eggs brine for a few minutes longer until they are salty to your taste. If they are too salty you’ll have to soak the eggs in plain cold water till they become less salty.

When the eggs are to your liking, pour them into a large mesh strainer and run cold water over them for a couple of minutes, while stirring. You want to remove the salt water as best you can without overflowing the roe.

Be sure to wear your amethyst tennis bracelet while preparing this delicacy

Once the roe is rinsed, place the strainer in a large bowl. Make sure the bottom of the strainer doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl by inverting a small saucer or plate in the bowl. You don’t want the roe to soak in the water. Rather, you want the water to strain out of the roe.

Fill a gallon bag with water and seal it up. Place the bag on top of the roe, which is in the strainer, which is in the bowl. Place in fridge overnight or for 12 hours. This will remove excess liquid and compress the roe, which means tastier roe!

When the roe is ready, place it in small jars with wide mouths.

Wide mouths mean easy roe access


From here you can distribute your roe to all of your gourmand friends. It will keep in the fridge for three days, but really, you shouldn’t be storing this stuff. You should be stuffing this stuff into your mouth as fast as possible because it’s so delicious.

In case you have a surplus of prepared salmon caviar (my parents will be processing 40 pounds of it this weekend) the best thing to do is to vacuum pack the jars themselves. Your caviar can keep for a few weeks if vacuum sealed.

Before vacuum packing, poke a couple of holes in the tops of the jars. This will get the air out of the jars while in the vacuum packer.

Store your roe in the back of the fridge where it’s coldest. Eat your caviar with Carr’s crackers and white wine.

Officially YUM. For more caviar answers and insights, I recommend this site. For a more detailed tutorial, click here.

2 thoughts on “How to Make Salmon Caviar”

  1. Hello, I’m just curious, can I use frozen salmon eggs? A friend gave me 2 gallons of frozen eggs and I don’t really know what to do with them!

    1. Hi Susie, this recipe is for fresh eggs. I’ve never tried using frozen eggs so I’m not sure how it will work. I’m not sure what to do with frozen eggs either! If you end up trying this recipe let me know how it works out! -Natasha

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