Monday, January 23, 2012

Mock Caviar

We woke up this morning to really nasty weather.  An ice fog had made the roads horrible, then it began to rain, which quickly froze everything solid, and then the temperature dropped and the rain turned to snow.  Fun, fun fun. lol  My nephews were here before I even had my morning chores done telling me they had a SNOW DAY!  The favorite two words for school age children this time of year.  I told them if it stopped raining ice I would take them ice fishing down on the ponds.  The farm rule is that no one under 16 can ice fish without supervision (I've had a couple close calls with going through the ice).

Well, of course the second the rain turned to snow my nephews were once again pounding on my door, this time carrying their ice fishing equipment because, after all I promised to take them.

Needless to say I did nothing on cleaning my basement, the chore I had on my list to do today.  But we all had a great time and we caught 4 legal northerns, two of which had a good amount of roe (eggs). 
Here's the row from one of the northerns.
So I spent the early evening filleting two of the fish and making dinner, the other two were canned, and the row we started for taramosalata which is wonderful spread from fish roe.  First though we have to make a mock caviar with the roe. which can take a bit of work.  Here's the recipe for caviar:

You'll need;
Fresh fish roe (true caviar is made with sturgeon roe but since that fish is endangered most of us don't get them while ice fishing)
2 cups cold water
1/2 cup of non-iodized salt

The equipment you use is a bit odd for the kitchen but this is the easiest way.  Once you make caviar, you'll know why the stuff is so darn expensive.

You'll need a study piece of 1/4 inch wire mesh (hardware cloth on a frame will do) and a fine sieve.

Put the wire mesh over a bowl.  Break up the fish eggs, loosening them from the membrane that holds them.Then  rub them gently across the mesh, careful not to break the eggs or to break up the membrane so it falls through.  If it does, you'll just have to pick it out later.  Even doing it this way you may have to rub some of the eggs off the membrane by hand.  They will stick to your fingers though and it becomes a comedy of errors to see someone trying to get fish eggs off their fingers.

Measure the eggs.  For around every cup make a brine of two cups cold water with 1/2 cup non-iodized salt.  Add the eggs and stir gently.  Let the eggs sit in the brine for 15 to 30 minutes.  They are much saltier the longer they sit.  gently swirl the eggs every now and then to see if there is any membrane that may have made it through the sieve.  The membranes take a bit longer to settle than the eggs.

Gently pour the eggs/salt water through a fine meshed sieve and let them drain in the fridge for about an hour.  Then pack into a scalded and cooled jar and let set in the fridge for at least 12 hours before eating.  If it is too salty you can rinse the caviar in cold water and then let drain again.  This will keep in a tightly covered jar in the fridge for about a month-though we will turn around and make taramosalata out of it tomorrow and eat it on bread.  It will be gone in a couple days.

Many of the fancy foods of today were simply our ancestors not letting anything go to waste.  We often found that the "waste" part of the foods were the best tasting parts.  Fish eggs to the modern person sounds gross, but salt or cream them, give them a fancy sounding name, and people gobble them down without a second thought. 

I'll dig out my recipe for taramosalata tomorrow.  Now I'm going to thaw out with a warm cup of tea in front of the fire.

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