The icing on the cake when you catch your own fish is that you’ll get plenty of fish roe during spawning season — my last trip on Cayuga Lake alone brought almost a pound! Cured trout roe (personally, I don’t like calling it caviar unless it comes from a sturgeon) has become an increasingly expensive delicacy, with stores charging as much as $100 for 4 oz.
And yet curing roe is incredibly fast and easy! The whole recipe requires only 3 ingredients, a scale and about 10 minutes of your time. If you don’t have curing salt, you can replace it with regular salt. You’ll be amazed by the result, too. Trout roe is milder and has a much thinner skin than its salmon counterpart, which makes it a good starting point for the fish roe skeptic.
The cured roe can be kept refrigerated for a couple weeks or more, depending on the amount of salt you use (feel free to tune it to match your taste). In theory you can even freeze it — something that retail stores do regularly to even out the effects of Caspian caviar import quotas, for example.
Cured lake trout roe
Yields 8 oz
8 oz lake trout roe, still in its sac (called skein)
about 0.35 oz (10 g) salt (see below)
1/8 tsp (0.75 g) curing salt
2/3 tsp (2 g) canola oil
- Place the roe on a cooling rack over a bowl, and rub gently to separate the eggs from the membrane (see picture). Some of the eggs will probably remain attached to the membrane. If you don’t want to throw them away, flip the cooling rack upside down, collect the membrane, and repeat the process; as this second batch is more likely to contain small pieces of membrane, you can collect it into a separate bowl.
- Rinse the eggs with cold water and strain. Weigh the roe and return to a dry bowl.
- Weigh 4.5 % of the roe weight in salt, then mix with the curing salt and sprinkle over the roe. Gently mix with a spatula, add the oil and mix again. Transfer to a plastic container and refrigerate for at least 1 day, stirring every 12 hours or so.