Nutrient Dense Fish Roe

Salmon Roe Photo

Today, I’ve decided to post two entries from our Facebook archives since most of us are in need of supplemental food sources of Vitamin D at this time of year, as well as sources of nutrient dense foods to boost our immune system. Salmon roe, picture above, is a nutrient dense food for all of us – before conception, while pregnant, while nursing and yes, for babies who are eating solids … and then we may continue to be nourished by them long after we are of child baring age!   One of our mothers wrote, “My baby loves it, it’s the perfect finger food for babies just learning to eat.  I cringe when I see babies eating O shaped cereal.”  As was mentioned, what follows appeared originally on Facebook and you may find some comments of interest there.

The Nutritional Benefits of Fish Roe

Fish roe or fish eggs have been a sacred food across the globe since ancient times.  In his writings, Dr. Weston A. Price detailed the great lengths the natives of the Andes went to carry dried fish roe from sea level back to their villages high in the mountains—sometimes hundreds of miles—to supply those of childbearing age with the nutrients needed to make the healthiest of babies.  These nutrient- dense eggs are rich in vitamins A, D, and K2 (Activator X) along with zinc, iodine, and the brainbuilding fatty acid DHA, making them a powerful superfood for babies and adults alike.  According to a recent Weston A. Price Foundation-funded analysis by UBE Laboratories, fish eggs contain 17,000 IU vitamin D per tablespoon!

The Eskimos consumed roe from salmon and other fish in large quantities, often daily.  During the warm season, salmon roe was dried in the sun to preserve it for use throughout the year, especially for pregnant women.  As one can imagine, there are many choices when it comes to fish roe.  While most people associate fish eggs with caviar, technically, the only fish roe classified by this name comes from the prehistoric freshwater beluga sturgeon.  All other varieties are simply fish eggs or roe, but they are usually prepared in the same way.  The caviar process involves separating the fish eggs from the membrane by passing them through a sieve.  The liquid is pressed off, and the eggs are mildly salted and sealed fresh in small tins, or they are canned and heat treated.

Salmon roe is one of the more accessible and generally better tasting fish roes available.  In Japan, salmon roe—called ikura, borrowed from the Russian ikra—is used in making sushi, as is the sweet-tasting bright orange-red roe called tobikko that comes from flying fish, and that typically appears on California rolls in sushi restaurants.  Note: most California rolls contain additive-filled imitation crab meat; simply request that the real crab be used.

Salted, processed “caviar,” whether fresh or canned, is delicious with finely chopped onions and sour cream.  Put a dollop of creme fraiche or sour cream on a good quality cracker or crispy pancake, top with the fish eggs and finely chopped onions.  Unprocessed roe comes fresh, frozen, smoked or dried.  If you are a fisherman and find roe in your fish, be sure to scoop it out and eat it on the spot—or save and serve with toast and butter when you get home.  Your fish monger may also have fresh fish roe.  Unprocessed frozen fish eggs are available online at Vital Choice, one of our referral partners.

But, how do you eat them?!

Frozen eggs can be thawed and used as needed.  Toss a few on the high-chair tray for baby; he will more often than not enjoy his “salty peas,” as Nina Planck, author of Real Food, calls them.  Another easy way to incorporate fresh roe is to top a soft boiled, pasture-raised egg with a little scoop or try blending a dollop into your next salmon salad … or these deviled eggs with homemade mayo.

Dried fish roe is called for in the recipe below, and previously available here, but it does not appear to be on their product menu now.  If folks know of an alternative, trusted source for dried fish roe, let us all know!

SMOKED SALMON AND FISH ROE DIP

1/2 cup chopped smoked salmon
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed organic lemon or lime juice
4 ounces cream cheese, preferably organic or homemade
2 tablespoons minced organic red onion or green onion
1 to 2 tablespoons dried fish roe
Salt and pepper to taste

In food processor, mix all ingredients until smooth.  Store in an airtight container in refrigerator for up to 24 hours.  One tablespoon of fish roe supplies 17,000 IU vitamin D.  Combining fish roe with sour cream, crème fraîche or cream cheese supplies vitamins A, D and K2 all together; a dynamite sacred food combo!

The above text was inspired by Jen Allbritton’s article.

Nourished Kitchen recommends:

Serve roe on its own, paired with cucumbers, served with homemade crackers and freshly cultured sour cream.  Alternatively, consider serving taramasalata – a traditional Greek dip featuring unrefined extra virgin olive oil and tarama – carp roe.

Photo of Peruvian Girl © Price-Pottenger Nutrition Foundation

What follows in the next paragraph appeared originally on Facebook and you may find some comments of interest there.

This was one of Dr. Price’s most favorite photos.  This lovely Peruvian girl with her round face lived high up in the Andes Mountains at 12,000 feet.  She is holding some dried fish roe.  He found that these cultures valued dried fish eggs, which they carried from the seashore to the high altitudes in their back backs. He asked the people why they went to such trouble to bring fish eggs high up in the mountains.  The answer: “We need these fish eggs so we can have healthy babies.”  It was the same reply he got in Alaska from the Eskimos when he asked them about their salmon roe.

Indigenous peoples knew instinctively what science has taught us—fish eggs contain many nutrients necessary for optimum reproduction, including vitamins A, D and K, minerals like zinc and iodine, and certain fats called DHA and EPA that are important for normal reproduction, especially the development of the brain and nervous system in babies.  According to Dr. Price, fish roe is also an excellent source of the X Factor.

So how did they know?  How did populations separated by thousands of miles know that consumption of fish eggs ensured healthy babies?  Dr. Price was in awe at the instinctual wisdom of so-called primitive peoples throughout the world.  As Sally Fallon Morell says, “We do not have any answer to the question of how they knew. We’ve lost that instinctual knowledge.  We need science to get us back to where these people were.  Our mission statement at the Weston A. Price Foundation is the scientific validation of these traditional foodways.  Unfortunately, science has been perverted; it has been bought up by the food industry and is not being used to validate the ways of nature.”

How do we get fish eggs today?  You can cure your own salmon roe with salt and sake at home.  This is by far the freshest and most tasty version.  If you can find fresh eggs, this is the way to go.  Fresh eggs are available at the farmers market on Saturday in Larkspur for those in the San Francisco Bay Area.  Here is a web site with photos to show you how to clean the membrane and cure the roe.  It takes about 30 minutes or so at least the first few times:

I now want to recommend Lummi for salmon roe after having tasted it last night .  Although the package was frozen and the date is labeled 2009, the taste and quality was very good.  The texture was a bit more gummy than the fresh version, which is very light and liquidy (inside) and does not have a fishy smell.

Up until now, I have been ordering and recommending Vital Choice’s salmon roe, however in comparison to Lummi’s, the Vital Choice brand tasted more salty and smelled very fishy and in comparison did not seem fresh at all.  The texture was even more gummy than Lummi’s.  Also, Lummi’s is more cost effective.

I will continue to recommend Vital Choice for their canned seafood — still the best sardines, mackerel and tuna I have ever had!

This photograph is reproduced by permission from the Price-Pottenger Nutrition Foundation.  All rights reserved.  Please reproduce only with their express written permission:

Yet, feel free to share this post with your circle!

Does your family eat fish roe? If yes, please share your ideas/recipes!

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20 Comments

Filed under Facebook Archives, Nutrient Dense Foods, Recipes

20 responses to “Nutrient Dense Fish Roe

  1. I noticed you don’t specify that only Wild Caught Salmon should be used. I’m fairly new to the world of nutrition, yet I have read terrible things about farmed Salmon and am now wondering what your stance on Farmed Salmon is.

  2. Yes! Only wild caught salmon, for sure! The sources I linked to, and recommended, only offer wild caught but, I will amend the post to ensure clarification of this most important point. Thank you, Bonnie!

  3. Fish eggs are delicious. I didn’t realize it was so nutritious too.

  4. Yes! They are a powerhouse of nutrition … that and fermented cod liver oil: http://www.greenpasture.org/public/Home/index.cfm

  5. Pingback: The Next Generation | Nourishing Our Children

  6. I am reading Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Dr. Weston A. Price with the Nutritional Wisdom Book Club and just read this today: “The eggs of the salmon are dried and stored as an important item of nutrition for both children and adults. They are also used to increase the fertility of the women. From a chemical standpoint they are one of the most nutritious foods I have found anywhere.”

    He also writes that “These foods constitute a very important part of the nutrition of the small children after they are weaned. “

  7. I was wondering if the fish eggs at a sushi restuarant are wild caught & therefore a good thing to recomend to my postpartum doula clients. They need some “quickie” options for nutrient dense foods since a brand new baby is pretty time consuming. Thanks for all the great info!

  8. Pingback: The Optimal Diet for Pregnant and Nursing Mothers | Nourishing Our Children

  9. Tara

    At what age can a baby start eating the fish eggs? Is there any risk in terms of fish allergy?
    Is this the specific product you recommended?
    http://www.lummiislandwild.com/product_details.cfm?id=52&sid=9

  10. Jessica

    I want to recommend ilovebluesea.com for salmon roe! I just ordered from them – wild from the pacific and packaged in a glass jar! I bought in bulk (they arrive frozen so are just stashed in my freezer) and it came out to about $13 a jar. I am really pleased.

    I do have a question: is there such thing as too much roe for a 17 month old? Between us we could easily share a 4 oz jar every day. I’d say he would easily eat 1oz every day. We both are addicted! Is there any reason to limit consumption (other than cost of course)?
    Thanks!

    • Jessica, I don’t think there is such a thing as too much! Some may very well argue in favor of rotation, however some traditional cultures that Dr. Price observed did eat a lot of the same kind of foods. From my perspective, no worries on the amount!

  11. Susan

    Interesting. With today’s problems with contamination of food, where would we get salmon eggs that don’t have mercury or chemicals in them? How would the upcoming release of genetically modified salmon (that can breed with wild trout and outcompete other wild varieties) affect our ability to safely consume it?

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  14. Cathy

    Hi, I see the last comment was written on here some time ago, so hopefully you are still answering questions :) I ordered salmon roe from Vital Choice and it comes in 6 oz packages. Can I thaw the roe, separate it into smaller container and then refreeze it? How long does it last, thawed, in the fridge?

  15. ileana

    I have a question I hope you can get to… I give my one year old fermented cod liver oil. Since they are both rich in Vitamins A and D and Dha, will it be too much for him? Thank you

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