Friday, April 7, 2023

Our Daughter Is A Ho

A Roe Ho, that is.  ;)

Our daughter was given some roe by a friend who had saved it for her from his annual netting of whitefish in one of our inland lakes.

Roe is another name for eggs harvested from a female fish.  And from roe, caviar is made.  She's done this several times in the past. Today we were the recipients of her efforts.  The following pictures are those she took of the process along with descriptions.

When the eggs come out of the female fish, they are enclosed in a casing holding them together (much like a hairnet).  From which they must be (carefully) extracted.  Oops, no pics of that.  Because, as DD said, it wasn't very photogenic.

After separating the eggs from the casing they are in, you manually pick out all the casing pieces and any stray fish scales (of which there are always a few). 

Above, L-R:  the discard pile, awaiting the delighted chickens; relatively clean roe, eggs in their casing soaking in brine.


 "Clean" roe awaiting the final cleaning.

After many repeated rinses of clean, ice cold water, you VERY gently spread the roe in a very thin layer to remove any further impurities.  The most crucial things is to not put any pressure on the eggs which would result in an oily, cream-colored smear rather than nice, clear, plump caviar.


Interesting aside here:  several years ago, our daughter worked in a local fishery for 2 or 3 seasons and, along with a really neat young woman from Russia, was assigned the task of salting the caviar (following the final cleaning).  (They called themselves Roe Hos.)  The final cleaning, before the salting and packing, is the time-consuming portion of making caviar and what makes it so expensive.  Because each fish egg is so very, very tender, they have to be "picked" by hand.  Meaning that, after washing and the removal of the "big stuff" (fish scales that slipped through and the membranes holding the eggs), the roe has to be thinly spread out (being careful not to burst a single eggy pillow) and inspected.  Any imperfections are then removed.  By hand.  (Imagine bending over tables doing that for 8 hours a day in a refrigerated room!)

Clockwise from bottom left:  final cleaning of roe, discards for chickens, fairly clean roe, caviar on ice.

Salt is what preserves the fish eggs and makes them into caviar.  Some people prefer to soak the roe in a specifically ratio-ed salt-to-water brine.  Others simply salt (with another closely guarded ratio) the fish eggs once they're completely clean.

Once that's all been done, you are left with . . . caviar! 

Whitefish caviar, being one of the least expensive caviars, is currently selling for $8.00/oz.  That makes this beautiful bowl full of locally-sourced omega-3s worth $168.56! 

Hmmm, now what kind of wine would be suitable for serving with caviar and crackers tonight?  (DD advises a dry white.)  You're all invited.


Michelle said...

Very interesting! I always wondered what made fish eggs into caviar and why it is so expensive!

Leigh said...

I'm game. I only remember eating caviar once, eons ago, but it was black. I didn't realize that there was so much preparation involved. Interesting!

SmartAlex said...

Neat! Not everyone knows how to do THAT! I had caviar once and remember liking it.

Rosalea said...

Very, very interesting and informative. Thank you Mama Pea.

DFW said...

Learn something new every day!

Mama Pea said...

Michelle - I think I might learn to like caviar if I could get over the fact that I was eating thousands of little fish eggs. Well, no, there is the fact that I'm not crazy about the taste and other than that my daughter makes, I could never afford to purchase it!

Leigh - I could be totally wrong but I think black caviar comes from the beluga whale. And how does one get the fish eggs out of a whale?

SmartAlex - This our daughter made was not fishy (which I had always assumed all caviar was) but I've heard some IS fishy which would NOT be to my liking. Do I really need caviar? Lots of other treats I'd pick first. :o)

Rosalea - The thanks (thank you!) go to my dear daughter for her expertise in making the caviar and doing the bulk of the work on the post.

DFW - That is so true! Am I extremely ignorant or are there oodles and oodles of things to learn nearly every day?! I hope it's the latter!

United States said...
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Nancy In Boise said...

Wow thats fascinating, yummy!

Mama Pea said...

Nancy - The nutrients available in roe/fish eggs/caviar are said to be very beneficial to us so if one enjoys caviar . . . yep, it is yummy for more than one reason! ;o)

wyomingheart said...

Fancy and Fresh! White wine, you say? Sign us up!

Kev Alviti said...

oh wow! Now that was a good blog post and has made me want to try caviar!