Salmon caviar on toast

Salmon caviar on Laurie's sourdough toast.

My brother, Jeff, and I spent the day jostling back and forth, up and down on the Pacific Ocean, several miles west of North Head Lighthouse in his small fishing boat. Let me confess: I am prone to motion sickness. But not this day. We, with the luck of happy fishermen and the blessing of the force, came home with two Chinook salmon, both hens, and loaded with mature salmon eggs.

Jeffery Campiche with salmon

Jeffery Campiche with a salmon that weighed more than 40 pounds.

Perhaps you have eaten Ikura or Japanese salmon caviar, frequently served with sushi. Salmon roe is considered a delicacy abroad and in several U.S. outposts. My brother insisted that I make some. His wife is Korean and the two of them love the eggs.

Folks assume the making of Ikura to be an unapproachable task, but it’s not as complicated as you might think. A stainless-steel screen or 1/2-inch mesh works wonders. The trick is to separate the eggs from the skein.

Salmon roe sushi

Ingredients

• Freshly cooked sushi rice (see recipe below)

• Toasted nori sheets

• Wasabi paste, brushed on inside of the nori kelp

• 8 to 10 tablespoons salmon caviar

Sushi rice

• 10 ounces sushi rice

• 1 1/2 cups water

• 2 tablespoons rice vinegar

• 1 tablespoon sugar

• 1/4 teaspoon salt

• Dipping sauce, made of soy sauce, wasabi and

pickled ginger

Preparation

Slip the sacs of salmon eggs into boiling water for about 10 seconds. Strain very quickly and place into ice water. This loosens up the skein around the eggs. Be careful not to overcook.

When cold, methodically peel back the skein. Roll the eggs back and forth across the screen and into a glass bowl. The eggs need to fall through individually without the skein. Pick out any broken eggs and pieces of the skein. Strain any extra water.

In a glass bowl, swirl in soy sauce or sea salt to your taste. Here is the trick: I add 4 to 6 tablespoons of good whiskey. The eggs will absorb the liquor and the soy sauce and expand slightly in size. Refrigerate and serve.

When you eat the eggs, you will get an explosion of divine taste. A few brave individuals place the Ikura over rice. I like them in a crepe with soft, scrambled eggs. Best of all is on the top of a sushi roll with a mixture of wasabi paste and soy.

This is just one of countless ways to prepare salmon — the whole fish. It is a beautiful swimmer and we are lucky that its home is also ours.

David Campiche is a potter, poet, writer and lifelong resident of the Long Beach Peninsula with a keen interest in adventure, fine and culinary arts. Find more about his work at davidcampiche.com.

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