Introduction: Fresh Salmon Caviar
Caviar isn't just for fancy pants persons on luxury yachts - make your own with these easy steps!
Step 1: Locate Your Salmon
We live in Yukon close to the Alaska border so we located our salmon near the Chilkoot Lake State Recreation Site in Alaska. There is a lovely stream here that runs next to a road for easy access. In late July and August, it is time for the pink salmon run. Later in October, it will be coho salmon. Get to know your local salmon species by doing internet research or, better yet, ask the locals. Before you go, make sure you have the necessary license and know catch limits for that area.
Step 2: Catch the Salmon
We were using pixie lures (medium sized spoons) and 12 pound woven line. River fishing means many snags, so it is important to have line that is stronger than you would normally use for the size of fish. Salmon like to rest in certain spots on a river, especially after running through a series of rapids. Find these spots and you will be more successful! Cast across the water and reel in at a medium speed. Don't forget to practice bear safety!
Here we have a female salmon (on the left) and a male salmon (on the right). You can tell the female from the male because the male has a hump on its back.
Step 3: Take Out the Roe
Take the female salmon and carefully cut open the belly. Make sure the knife you are using is sharp and the blade is pointing towards the outside of the fish, so as not to cut through the entrails accidentally. You will see two sacks of roe inside the salmon. Carefully remove these and wash them in cold fresh water.
For the rest of the salmon, continue with your usual preparations.
Step 4: Seperate the Roe
Salmon roe is attached to the egg sack (also called skein) by membranes. Rub the roe against a large wire mesh (larger than pictured here is ideal - 1/4 inch holes are best) to separate the eggs from the membrane. Try to keep the membrane itself intact - it is easier that way. You can also use your fingers to carefully push the eggs away from the membrane, but this takes some time.
Step 5: Wash and Brine
Wash your separated salmon roe in cold water. There may be tiny blood clots and bits of membrane left - try to remove these. Once the roe is clean, immerse it completely in a bowl with a solution of cold water and salt. For one salmon I find that a mix of 1/2 cup salt and 2 cups water is more than enough. Increase the amount if you have more roe. Leave the roe in the brine for 10 -12 minutes. Any longer and the texture and taste will not be ideal. Give it one final rinse in cold water.
Step 6: Enjoy Your Fresh Salmon Caviar!
This will keep in the fridge for 2-3 weeks. I love it on fresh baguette with a little butter. Enjoy!