Blini with fresh lumpfish roe, creme fraiche, red onion and dill. A delicate and very beautiful starter.
February can be dull, dark and boring in Denmark but one thing always cheers me up. It is season for the delicious lumpfish roe.
The lumpfish, or stenbider (stone biter) as we call it in Danish, lives in the cold waters of the Arctic, North Atlantic and North Pacific oceans. The fish itself is quite ugly but the roe is beautiful. Danes call the roe Danish caviar but I am sure other countries claim the roe is theirs too.
Lumpfish roe is used extensively in Scandinavian cuisine. The fish itself is mostly considered a by-product and you don’t find them often in the shops. The flesh is quite oily and soft in a strange way but smoked it is really good.
The taste of lumpfish roe
You cannot compare the taste of lumpfish roe with the expensive caviar from sturgeons, or for that matter, the roe of salmon or trout. The taste of lumpfish roe is very delicate, and unlike real caviar that often has a nutty flavour, the lumpfish roe has a very subtle taste of the ocean. The colour is a soft pink with a touch of mother of pearl, nothing like the dark golden colour of sturgeon caviar or brightly orange coloured salmon roe.
Fresh Lumpfish roe feels like thousands of tiny, lightly salted exploding bubbles in your mouth, and you feel happy every time, you enjoy them.
Beautiful fresh lumpfish roe, cleaned and ready to be used.
When in season
You can get lumpfish roe all year round, frozen or canned, but go for the fresh roe.
Fresh lumpfish roe is in season from January til May, depending on how warm the sea is. In Denmark the season lasts no longer than 4-6 weeks, typically from the end of January til mid March.
I find frozen roe to have a metallic after-taste, which I don’t like. Canned roe is often dyed red or black and used for garnish like salmon and trout roe but the taste is bland and boring.
If you have never tried fresh lumpfish roe and you get the chance, go ahead!
How to clean lumpfish roe
In Denmark fresh lumpfish roe is usually sold cleaned and salted, ready to be eaten, but you can find whole egg sacks where you need to clean the roe yourself. The latter is often way cheaper and not as hard as it may sound.
Place the egg sack in a bowl and cover with plenty of cold water. Remove the sack with your fingers, leaving the roe in the water. Don’t worry if you leave some pieces of the egg sack behind. Use a balloon shaped whisk and move it gently through the roe. Any pieces of egg sack left behind will get caught by the whisk. Repeat until the egg sack is completely gone. Drain the roe. Finally salt the roe with coarse sea salt, about 1 tablespoon per 500 gram but taste the roe regularly while salting. Stir carefully. The roe is now ready to be eaten. Keep refrigerated. The fresh roe will keep for 1-2 days.
Recipes with lumpfish roe