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100 responses to “How to Make Caviar”

  1. David

    I made this caviar once and it was great & a lot of fun…but it was a lot of caviar! (which, really, wasn’t that much of a problem..)

  2. Dawn

    Holly, the caviar photos are just gorgeous. Hank, I’ve never made caviar, but you make it look so easy. I have tried a few different kinds. They are all really different, aren’t they? I always think it’s odd when people tell me, “I don’t like caviar” – and then I find out they have only tried one variety. My 8 year-old son loves the tobiko and masago varieties you get at sushi bars. Funny, kid will eat raw fish eggs, but won’t eat grapes. 🙂

  3. matt

    I have never made caviar, but now have the inkling to give it a go. And yes, I reckon these might be the coolest thing ever. Love the color, the perfect roundness. They really have that look like they are just ready to burst.

  4. Lang

    Nice pics. I make caviar from all my salmonids. So easy it almost seems criminal!

  5. Garrett

    Hank, I think this might be one of the coolest things you’ve ever done.

  6. amy

    I’ve never made caviar…Tho’ I have had it. I love your pics…And it looks delicious : )

  7. Lance

    I can recommend a bit of good cognac in the brine. Maybe blasphemy to some, but still amazing.

  8. Holly Heyser

    Thanks everyone, re the photos! I was captivated by the fatty little yolks in these eggs. Had to get so close I was surprised I didn’t smoosh an egg on my lens…

  9. Lang

    Best is probably chinook, but I like ’em all–even pinks!

  10. Alex

    Hank – thanks very much for the tips, I’ll be sure to check on that one.

  11. Josh

    How about shad? Anybody do this to shad?

  12. Chris

    Whenever I buy lobsters, I only buy females, so that I can take the roe and add it to whatever sauce I am making to give a real nice depth of lobster flavor. I”m not sure if this counts as making caviar, but it’s putting the lobster eggs to good use!

  13. Tamar

    So do the eggs just come off the membrane when you run the roe under hot water? I wish I’d had that tip before I tackled my trout.

    I separated the eggs by hand, brined them for 25 minutes, and drained them. Done. I made the simplest possible sauce for smoked trout cakes: Warm a couple tablespoons of roe in a little sour cream. Break a few of the eggs with the back of a spoon (to flavor the sour cream), and leave the rest whole.

  14. Dana McCauley

    Stunning! I’m not a huge caviar fan but my husband is. I’d love to surprise him with some homemade caviar.

    I’m bookmarking this page!

  15. RR

    Fun article and beautiful photos. I did cringe at the thought of brining the eggs for so long, since steelhead eggs only require three minutes of brining. I also winced at the thought of running the skein under hot water, because that toughens up the membrane and can denature the protiens in the eggs.

    Here’s a recipe I was taught in Russia:

  16. Trout Caviar

    Wonderful post, exquisite photos. After throwing away–for many years, with much regret–the roe of autumn brown and brook trout, I decided a couple of years ago to figure out how to make trout caviar. The results impressed me so much, when I started a blog, that’s what I called it! In the past I’ve painstakingly separated the eggs from the skein with the back of a paring knife, so I’m happy to learn the hot water trick.

    As another hunter, angler, gardener, and cook (and forager, and baker) I’m happy to have found your blog, too. I’m going to add it to my links list and look forward to checking in often.

    All best~ Brett

  17. Yeoman

    tell me is there a reason that caviar seems to be made only from freshwater fish?
    I wll try it with Snapper and perhaps Kingfish (Yellowtail) and hope that it tastes as good

  18. Laocook

    Wow! I never thought about making this, we get loads of fish in everyday, maybe I´ll tell my fishmonger to bring them whole (not cleaned), maybe he has been keeping a huge stash of eggs from me!

    Happy New Year Hank!

  19. Bodega

    Hank – I made a batch this evening using Russian River steelhead we caught two days ago. Is there a minimum time you would want the eggs to sit in the fridge before eating? Can’t wait to try them!!

  20. Carnivore Locavore

    I’ve done this! I’ve made caviar with the brook trout egg pouch with the trout that we caught!!! It was amazing. Can’t wait for the season to open again.

    I am from Azerbaijan, so I naturally grew up with caviar. Back home we ate it spread thinly on a slice of buttered bread – cream cheese will work too. Butter back in the Old country was eaten cold and sliced, never room temp and melted.

  21. Carnivore Locavore

    By way of cultural exchange, Here’s my recipe for venison (or beef) pasties. Just started hunting for the first time this year and shot my first deer this past November!

  22. joel

    i was told my japanese people that i worked with that since the fish was in fresh water you shouldn’t eat it raw for fear of parasites. i KNOW this is true of the flesh. and it seems it could hold true of the roe as well.

    when i made ikura from salmon, i wasted a lot of eggs – but i had a lot to start with!! i just rubbed the skein in a stack of paper towels. some eggs break but the rest break loose from the skein.

    then cure is shoyu (soy sauce) and sake. the sake will make sure to kill any bugs. i left them brine for 12-24 hours before eating. so sweet and crisp!

  23. David Mills

    Dockside Fish Market in Grand Marais, MN make caviar from Lake Superior herring roe. Delicious! Thanks for sharing the process. I love your blog. Naughty mushroom soup here I come!

  24. John

    This article was HUGELY helpful to me. I love trout caviar but have never actually prepared it myself until now. The utilization of these eggs is paramount to an angler. Now I just need to tie more flies!

  25. rando

    i use catfish it is good. emerill used shad i believe.a combonation of cavier and fried roe is awesome.make a portabella sauce over a grilled fillet ohhhhh so good

  26. Dinara

    Can anybody share their experiences converting paddle fish eggs into caviar, please?

  27. Pat

    Hi, I caught some nice brook trout that were full of eggs, and decided to try your recipe. ive never had caviar before so i wanted to try it, very interesting, rich and buttery, thanks for the recipe

  28. Penny T

    I have a 2-1/2 bag of frozen salmon eggs from my brother’s recent trip to Alaska.

    Can I make them into caviar, or are they only good as bait?

    Thank you. Penny, TX.

  29. Daniel Klein

    Only realizing now that I made caviar last time i went fishing ( – I just salted the trout roe for about an 45 minutes/1 hour. Then I took some of it and blended it with a little oil to make a sort of mayo and garnished with the rest. soo tasty. Great pictures again!

  30. caviar

    Caviar is a delicate and perishable substance. Therefore, it can only retain its ideal quality in cold storage, ideally at –2 C, or 28 F. The high oil content of caviar prevents it from freezing at these levels.

  31. Taras

    Hi Hank, I wanted to post a reply to Yeoman’s post even though its 2 years later. Most caviar is harvested from salt water fish. Sturgeon and salmon and some breeds of trout are anadromous. This means that they spend part or most of their life in salt water and migrate to fresh water to spawn. The Caspian Sea where the world renowned caviar comes from is salty. Your steelhead is a breed of rainbow trout that spends most of its life in salt water and spawns once a year in fresh water, Flying fish, herring are salt water fish. White fish can be both. There are some exceptions such as those salmon and sturgeon either planted or landlocked by dams in rivers and lakes. Paddlefish are mostly fresh water. With parents born in Ukraine I have been eating caviar for most of my life(66). To me commercial freshwater caviar is made way to salty. Why I don’t know. Perhaps because salt as a preservative can kill those parasites mentioned by another poster. Good saltwater caviar is only lightly salted (thus its very short shelf life) which allows that fresh, wonderful saltwater raised flavor to shine thru. Sorry if I was long winded. Taras

  32. Murasaki Shikibu

    When in season, I used to buy sacks of salmon roe and I’d gently wash them inside a bowl of Sake and then move them to a tupperware and cure them with soy sauce. Washing with sake makes the eggs slip out of the skin and the eggs will also absorb the Sake as well. Other types of alcohol should work, but Sake compliments seafood very nicely.

  33. Salmon Caviar | Culture Of Adventure

    […] To make the caviar, I followed Hank Shaw’s basic recipe. […]

  34. Flora Rouse

    Finally! This is the first place I found real and useful information about caviar. I have never before tried making my own ‘cos I always buy caviar online from the same shop. I realized beluga caviar tasted best to me, so I stuck to it. I will have to try making my own once, though. It sounds like a special, new experience! Thanks for this post!

  35. Nichole

    I thought you’d enjoy the post I just put up. I’m having fun playing with fish eggs this winter 🙂

  36. Episode 34: Caviar? - Kevin Kossowan | Kevin Kossowan

    […] since learned, caviar is simply brined fish eggs. That’s pretty simple. Most recipes online [Hank's got a nice post about caviar] were from trout or salmon roe. Perhaps freshwater fish roe would suck? Nope. I’ve had Golden […]

  37. Joe

    I’m counting down the days until trout season opens and wanting to try this out when I get some trout eggs.
    I have also read an older post from you about making bottarga – it looks like the egg sacs you would use for that are quite large, but have you ever made a ‘bottarga’ with trout, salmon or steelhead roe or heard of someone doing so?

  38. Ray

    Thank you for having this recipe online. I fish for trout and bass and have wanted to make my own caviar and this looks like a very good recipe. I look forward to trying it out!

  39. Living Alaska

    Making salmon caviar is something that we have always talked about doing and have not done. You saved us some research and we will be giving your method a try once the salmon start showing up in a month. Have you ever tried to preserve them beyond the fridge time? Thanks.

  40. Caviar Dreams | Urban Meliad

    […] Salmon Roe (from The Homebrew Chef) AND How to Make Caviar (from Hunter, Angler, Gardener, […]

  41. Ann Marie @ CHEESESLAVE


  42. Rob Knox

    Made a nice jarful from King Salmon roe fished out of Lake Michigan. What a rousing success this process was! To be honest, I’m not generally a caviar fan, but these little jewels were mild and spectacularly delicious! Thanks, Hank!

  43. Homemade Caviar « My Everyday Photos

    […] – that’s for sure. I had been looking for a recipe to make them into caviar and found this one at Hunter|Angler|Gardener|Cook. It was surprisingly easy and took little time. I find it to be a […]

  44. jae/gene

    Thanks for the tips, I’m gonna make some sturgeon Caviar tonight. Again, Thanks

  45. A tasty treat | Going Forward

    […] any of you have access to fresh steelhead roe, you might want to try making your own caviar with this recipe. It certainly looks easy enough, and the results are […]

  46. nick

    great article – wondering if same process holds true for freshwater – out of tributaries as well as from Lake Michigan. The brown trout roe looks wonderful, but I have yet to prepare it…

  47. scott

    I caught a trout today and when I opened it up there were orange eggs but not like in the pic above, all bunched together held in the membrane, just a few…maybe a small spoon full but they were “floating” loose inside. Whats up with that? I was fishing the lake not a river. Could it be she had gone up stream laid most of the eggs and some how got back down in the lake? Im still gonna try to cure the eggs 🙂

  48. Carol

    I just got back from a week in the Eastern Sierras, did a lot of hiking and fishing, was lucky enough to catch 4 wild rainbow trout full of roe. I didn’t have an internet connection so worked mostly from memory of this post in making caviar…didn’t bother removing the membranes so it was a very simple procedure…wasn’t too worried about parasites but brined the fish overnight in salt water with a pinch of sugar and a dash of soy sauce, then diluted the brine shortly before draining and serving the caviar to get rid of excess saltiness. With boiled potatoes, sour cream enlivened with chopped wild onions, and a drop of lemon juice, it was our most memorable camping meal! And it looked as beautiful as it tasted.

  49. Larry Cywin

    Will this process work with bowfin as well?

  50. Lisa

    I am in Alaska and caught my first salmon (reds) this week. I didn’t have a good recipe, but I did the brine overnight then warm water to finish getting the membrane off. It really worked. they are clear with the dark yoke showing through the translucent egg sack. What fun.
    Having never eaten caviar before, I think it will make a good accent to a dish. (it’s a bit salty maybe because I brined overnight

  51. Jennie Alice

    Just did this with the king I caught and it turned out great. I’d say my yield was rather low (perhaps) as a lot of the eggs popped when I was separating them, but the finished product tastes amazing. I let them soak just shy of 5 minutes for the second brining–any longer would’ve been too salty for me. I’ll certainly be saving the skeins from now on.

  52. Jim

    Scott, the trout you caught had egg’s in her from last year’s spawning. They didn’t get ejected. Any one know of a roe recipe that will last a long time?? Thanks, Jim

  53. Mel Malcolm

    Hmmm…my King salmon eggs didn’t clear up; they stayed very orange. They still tasted amazing, but I was hoping for the pretty clear look. Any suggestions? Also, I love this recipe, so simple! Thank you!

  54. Kevin Pidone

    I’ve made this twice now using Pink Salmon roe over the last two weeks. Absolutely fabulous!! English Muffin spread with mashed avocado and caviar on top. Yum and nice looking too!!!

  55. Jennifer

    I just tried this recipe with silver (coho) salmon that I caught this morning. Wow. Absolutely delicious. And I love it that you can adjust the saltiness to taste. Now I really can’t wait to get out fishing again because I definitely want to make more caviar. Thank you for posting this recipe.

  56. Jeff Craig

    I live in Cordova, Alaska, and eat Coho – Silver Salmon eggs as caviar all the time and love the little jewels,…I do mine a bit differently however and to a way I think that many of you will love. I start off with fresh skeins of roe, smoke them for 6 – 7 hrs in Alder (cold smoking only), then with warm water, 105 – 115F, separate the eggs from the skeins in the sink gently into a fine screen sieve. Then I place the eggs into a bowl and fill with cold water several times until I have all of the shells and membrane washed out of the eggs. I have also made a 100% brine solution with ice that I place the separated eggs into and stir gently until the eggs fall to the bottom. Then I drain them off and rinse with cold water which will find more shells that got by earlier. Keep tasting through this process until you get the saltiness you are after. The caviar will still last 2 – 3 weeks in the refrigerator. You will also have a product that folks will rave about,…Even those that thought they would never try them. Unsmoked is also great!

  57. Janet

    Has anyone tried making “caviar” with lionfish eggs? I’m organizing an invasive species cook-off and would love to include “caviar”. Please let me know.

  58. Jennifer

    Thanks for the recipe! I shared it with the listeners of My Yukon Life podcast radio.

  59. Oliver

    Ha – two Yukoners stumble upon this independently within a day of each other. I just tried this for the first time with a lake whitefish I caught this evening in Little Atlin Lake (I’d have liked more than one, but they’re no longer as findable as they were through the summer); golden caviar, with lovely delicate lake and cucumber essence, delivered in salty little pops. I suspect I’ll make this again (and try it out with some larger eggs from different species, too).

    Jennifer, your silver caviar looks amazing!

  60. Gardenisto

    Just pulled a large Mountain Whitefish from a river while visiting/fishing Wyoming. It was loaded with eggs. Anyone see a reason why this wouldn’t work for a Mountain Whitefish. Thanks!

  61. Norm Brewer

    We caught some Lake Superior whitefish that are full of eggs. Do you have any other suggestions on how to make caviar out of them? Norm

  62. Eric

    To the gentleman inquiring about bowfin. This is my coonass caviar method: to remove the roe use a grease splatter screen over a bowl. Rub the skein gently around in a circular motion, until they fall through. Wash the roe in water, using your finger to stir the mass. Skim off the water and repeat until clean. Now for the brine, 1/2 cup of salt, 1 cup water, 1 dash of cayenne pepper, a spritz of lemon. Let the roe soak for and hour, strain off the water, I use a coffee filter in a colander. Taste, if too salty rinse with a little cold water. Once it’s to your liking, use multiple layers of paper towels to dry and place in a suitable container and refrigerate.

  63. paul

    Is there anyone who has tried fresh water perch roe. I used to cure and devour herring roe while commercial fishing Alaska in a former life. I am going to try the curing/smoking recipe just to experiment. After filleting a nice catch of fresh water perch the roe just looked way to good to discard

  64. stephen

    would like to know if it is damaging or even possible to freeze the eggs sometime in the process. more in the interest to deal with parasites than anything else.
    my interest is mainly smelt/whitefish/salmon from inland lakes.

    also is it possible to store frozen eggs? it seems i have seen some in the grocery store.

  65. stephen

    how about, processing fresh first. once its finished then freeze.
    other method im interested in testing, is similar to how human or other animal reproductive eggs are harvested and stored. to combat freeze damage, they are stored in glucose i believe. but that might interfere with what ever kills any parasites. any thoughts?

  66. Marianne

    Is it just salt used to preserve? Does anyone use Borax?
    If the eggs are frozen to store does the glucose affect the flavour
    when thawed?

  67. “Summer” Fishing Trip: Snow, Thunder, Grayling, and Caviar « Partridge, Pine, and Peavey

    […] eggs. Not ones to waste food or show any disrespect towards the lives we took, we decided to make caviar, which we enjoyed for lunch the next day along with bread and cheese. If only we’d had brie […]

  68. John B

    I use the hot water method to get the eggs free of the skeins…and think it works the best.

    I have “canned” some of my excess product. I hot water bath the small jars (8-10 oz) with a temp probe in the middle. When temp hits 140 I put the lids on and screw them down lightly. I then put a cover over the pan and simmmer them an additional 5 minutes, and then using a towel for heat protection screw the lids down firmly/tight. I leave them on the counter to check for a vaccum/tight seal, and then keep them in the frig in the coldest part till opening and using them.

    It does give them a lighter orange color if using salmon roe, and it isn’t as good as fresh, but it does give me caviar year round.

    Jars that don’t “seal” I use up within a few weeks.

  69. Pete Cornwell

    Thank you for your simple recipe. We sometimes go one step simpler by eating the roe straight from the landlocked salmon, the Maine state fish…..but it is a little more civilized your way.

  70. Jay Lott

    As for the question as to whether caviar can be frozen, yes it can. I have eaten whitefish caviar (easy to get here in NE Wisconsin) after it was frozen and then thawed. It was excellent. You might need to rinse it and drain it before use, otherwise it’s a little slimy.

    I would be interested to hear if others have frozen other kinds of homemade caviar and what were the results.

  71. culp

    I have cought a lot of ripe hen steelhead in my day, and I hate seeing a hen spit her eggs out as I try to get the fly out of her mouth. Would those eggs works and taste the same as the eggs in skein?

  72. T.L.Winderweedle

    Bluegills,Redears,and all types of Perch Roe make good Caviar with the best coming from Black Crappie & Sac-a-Lait. Catfish Roe is plentiful and easy to work with from Blue Channel,Channel,and Flathead (“Opps”) Catfish.Here in Louisiana we are still allowed to Catch Two Spoonbills per person and you know that is good. Never tried it Bowfin (“Choupique”)but I don’t see why not! All of this Roe can be battered and deep fried if you want to try it. Catfish Roe can be lightly smoked before salting,but don’t dry it out! My Grandfather,born on a houseboat on the Atchafalaya River,told me that the Roe of ALL Garfish was poisionus and he would not mess with it.So I don’t either.

  73. zoya888

    Thank you for sharing. The one thing I would caution about is that using anything metal (bowl, strainer, spoon, storage container) will transfer some metallic taste to the roe. Best to stick with plastic strainer, plastic or glass bowl/tub for cleaning; plastic or wooden spoon for stirring.

  74. Anh

    Dear friends
    How could I prepare snail caviar? Can I use this guide and apply to snail eggs to make caviar?

  75. Tom Modin

    Do you feel this process will work well with paddlefish roe? We do catch some females who are laden with roe later in the season here in Missouri. I would like to at least try it and have my family try this. I have eaten sturgeon caviar in the past and enjoyed it.

  76. Jason Johnson

    Tried this last weekend with some fresh steelhead row from the Rogue River in Oregon. OMG! So, so surprisingly good. Thanks for this. Love your site, even more so, since I lived in Woodland for 5 years and often recognize the places you write about. Loved your episode of Bourdain’s show. Keep up the great writing. You’re on a righteous mission.

  77. Keith

    I am going sturgeon fishing later this month and hope to catch one in the keeper range of the slot. How long from taking the fish to making the caviar? How do I transport the roe from where we catch the fish and spend the night and make the 5 hour trip home? The fish we’ll pack with ice in a large plastic bag, hopefully in a large enough cooler to hold it. Just wondering how much we’ll get from a 4ft sturgeon…..

  78. Brad

    Hank I will be on Lake Michigan fishing King Salmon this weekend. I’ve heard that there could be parasites in fresh water fish? Any thoughts on this or can I use the roe from these kings to make caviar?

  79. Amy Reidell

    I just tried this method and the caviar was very tasty. I was wondering if you have found a way to preserve for later use since last year…either by canning or freezing methods. I have over 3 gallons of roe and when I have just frozen the eggs, they don’t look good. Was hoping freezing or canning processed caviar would have a different outcome. If not, will just have to enjoy now and leave it at that.

  80. Dylan Jones

    Thanks for this recipe, it is very similar to mine expect I learned how to do this in Japan so I used soy sauce mixed with mirin and water as my brine. The flavour of the eggs isn’t hidden at all and you get a nice fermented back taste from the soy sauce. Use about the same ratios you already use, I would just use the soy sauce until the water turns a light brown.

  81. Dan Gracia

    I made caviar for the first time this year, just a few weeks ago. I caught a couple of Pink Salmon in the Skykomish River in Washington and kept one. It was about a 7-pound fish and when I cleaned it, there were these beautiful eggs inside. Decided I had to make caviar out of it so I gave them a quick rinse; put them in a bowl; and set them aside while I filleted the fish. After filleting and putting the fish in the fridge, I hopped on the computer to find out how to turn these eggs into caviar.

    I found a number of methods most saying to use the cake/pastry cooler with 1/4″ mesh to separate the eggs. Didn’t have one and the stores close by didn’t carry them. Found one method using hot water, so I did that. Ran hot tap water into a bowl, submerged and started to massage the eggs. They came loose pretty easily but changed to a milky color in the hot water. Instructions said, don’t worry, they will change back and they did.

    Once they were all in the bowl, I drained the bowl and filled with cold water (the small pieces of skein will float to the top). Then kept filling with cold water and dumping the top layer off until there were almost no little bits floating at all. Picked out the last few floaters and drained through a strainer again. Not hard to do at all, just takes about 7 to 10 minutes to get there. The eggs start losing that milky color when you use the cold water but really look good at the end of it all.

    I then mixed a brine of 3-cups of COLD water and enough salt stirred into it to saturate the water leaving just a little undissolved salt in the bottom of the dish. Then I added 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar and 2 tablespoons of soy sauce. After mixing well, I added the eggs to the brine and let them sit for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, you’ll want to take a few eggs out, rinse them well in cold water to get the salt covering off the outside, and taste them. If they are not salty enough, put them back in the brine tasting them every 5 minutes until you like the taste. If they are too salty, fear not, it is easy to fix. Pull them out of the brine solution, rinse in cold water, and put into a bowl of clean fresh cold water for 5 to 10-minutes, tasting them every 5-minutes. Because the eggs surface is still permeable, this will leach the salt out of it.

    Once you get the taste where you want it, rinse the eggs well and leave the eggs in a strainer over a bowl. Then fill a ziplock bag with cold water, set it on top of the eggs in the strainer and set the whole assembly in the refrigerator for 12 hours (overnight). The water-filled zip-lock bag compresses the eggs and the remaining water pools in the bottom of the bowl.

    When I took them out of the fridge 12-hours later I was rewarded with delicious, beautiful, translucent orange pearls of salmon caviar. I ate them on crackers with cream cheese that evening and made some ikura sushi the next day so we could eat a fair amount of them before we had to leave town for two-weeks.

    I put the rest in the freezer, and just now pulled them out of the freezer and put them in the fridge to slowly thaw. Supposed to take 8 to 12 hours to thaw out. We’ll see how that goes. Hope it goes well because I had to freeze about 1/2 of the batch and I’d sure like to eat some more of these!

  82. David Weinehall

    Thanks for a really interesting article!

    In my opinion nothing beats

    but I’m also a big fan of burbot roe.

  83. tyler

    I live near a fish hatchery that always seems to have a lot of extra trout eggs, I’ll take a trip down there next spring to see if I can pry a couple pounds off them.

  84. richard

    can frozen roe be used after its thawed?

  85. Trina

    I found your article after I read one that said that the fish should not die before the roe is removed. Upon death, the fish excretes something into the eggs to make them bitter. Do you find this to be true?

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