Fish Roe

When cleaning your own catch you will often find roe and milt inside. Whether it is large Pacific salmon roe, smaller Delaware river shad or Florida mullet or perch roe, they all are delicious food that can be prepared in many ways. The milt, or buckroe (the part of the male fish which corresponds to the egg mass of the female) is as common as the female roe or eggs. It compares very favorably in food value with the roe and flesh of the fish. The use of roe or spawn of fish, preserved by salting or pickling, is many centuries old. The name caviare is of Tartar origin and the preparation of sturgeon roe is a huge industry in Russia. Mullet roe and milt are exported in large numbers every winter from Florida to Japan.

Cod Roes

Cod roes must be handled very carefully before salting to avoid bursting their delicate skins. The roes are washed in cold water and are then covered with dry salt. They are usually salted in layers in boxes up to about two feet deep and are left for about six to eight hours. After salting, the roes are placed in large-mesh baskets and thoroughly washed in cold water. The baskets of washed roes are then dipped for a minute or two into very hot or even boiling water. This makes the roes swell and gives them a plump appearance. Dye is sometimes added to the hot water in order to produce a more uniform color. They are then either hung over speats of wood or laid on wire mesh trays and smoked at 90-100° F (32-38° C) for six to eight hours with all the fires alight. (Adapted from: Fish Smoking, A Torry Kiln Operator’s Handbook, Her Majesty’s Stationery Office).

Large Roe, Cooked

Take one or two pair of large roe, of which the skin is unbroken, and dip each piece into heavily salted milk, then into finely sifted bread crumbs. Place in an oiled baking pan, sprinkle liberally with oil and bake in a very hot oven ten to fifteen minutes, according to the thickness of the roe.

Large Roe, with Bacon

Proceed the same as above, except to sprinkle the uncooked roe over with sliced bacon cut in small pieces, instead of with the oil. Remove to platter, garnish with sprigs of parsley and pieces of lemon and serve with tartar sauce.

Salad of Fish Roe

If any of the larger roe is left, dice it and mix with twice the amount of finely minced celery and mayonnaise. Season with salt and plenty of lemon juice. Dust on top with paprika.

Small Pieces of Roe

Small roe, two to three inches long by one in width, have been pronounced as delicately flavored as the finest fried oysters. Several at a time may be dipped into the salted milk, dripped a moment, and then into finely sifted bread crumbs, arranged side by side in an oiled baking pan, sprinkled over with oil and baked in a hot oven about eight minutes. Arrange in center of platter with a border of parsley or celery leaves for a garnish and serve with tartar sauce.

Creamed Roe on Toast

Parboil in salted, acidulated water ten minutes, drain, and when cold cut into pieces. Make a white sauce by heating two tablespoons of oil, mixing with it two tablespoons of flour to each cup of milk. Season with salt, pepper, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, mushroom, tomato ketchup or any preferred seasoning. Add the pieces of roe, and when heated through serve on piece of toast.

Scalloped Roe and Oysters

  • 1 cup parboiled roe, picked free from skin
  • 1 cup oysters
  • 2 tablespoons oil or butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup milk (may be canned milk, diluted)
  • 1 teaspoon tomato ketchup
  • Salt and pepper
  • Lemon juice

Heat the oil, add the flour, stir into a roux, add the hot milk. Heat the cup of oysters until edges curl, strain off the oyster liquor, add it to the white sauce, add the oysters, the pieces of roe and the seasonings. Blend well together. Put in individual ramekins or baking dish. Sprinkle over with bread crumbs which have been mixed with a little oil and salt, or a potato border may be piped with a pastry bag around the edge, with crumbs in the center. Bake ten minutes until crumbs are browned.

Mullet Roe

Italians prepare the roe of mullet as a table delicacy, calling it “botargo,” derived from the Arabic word “butarih.” Mullet roe sometimes called the poor man’s caviar is a desired item in many countries: Greece (avgotaracho), Korea (myeongran), East Asia (karasumi), Spain (botarga), French (boutarque) and many more. Mullet roe is yellow in color, very delicate and rather large compared to roe found in other fish. When cleaning the fish, save every particle of the roe, it may be parboiled in salted, slightly acidulated water (with vinegar or lemon juice) and then boiled around 8 minutes. Drain, and when cold pick out the pieces of membrane. Add a tablespoon of mayonnaise and mix to a paste. This will taste great on toast or in any kind of sandwich.

Mullet Milt

Mullet milt top, mullet roe bottom.

Mullet milt top, mullet roe bottom.

Take a pair of mullet milt, cut in two, lengthwise. Our objective in cutting is to prevent them from curling up when cooking. Then dip each piece into salted milk, then into fine bread crumbs, place on an oiled baking pan, sprinkle over with oil and bake in a very hot oven ten to twelve minutes, according to thickness. Garnish with parsley and pieces of lemon. Serve with tartar sauce.

Creamed Milt on Toast or in Ramekin

Parboil in salted and acidulated (with lemon juice or vinegar) water ten minutes. When cold take out skin and cut into cubes. Make a white sauce with two tablespoons of oil or butter and two tablespoons of flour to each cup of milk. Mix the white sauce and cut-up milt together and season with salt, pepper, lemon juice, Worcestershire Sauce and some tomato ketchup. Serve on pieces of toast which have been first dipped into boiling water, then buttered. Or it may be served in individual ramekins with a top dressing of oiled or buttered crumbs and browned in an oven for ten minutes.

Flounder or Sole Roe, Creamed with Green Peas

  • 1 cup roe, cut in pieces, parboiled and free from skin
  • 1 cup green peas
  • 3 tablespoons oil or butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon tomato ketchup
  • Salt and pepper

Heat the milk and cream. Melt the butter, sift in the flour, add the hot milk and cream, stirring well until very smooth. Add the pieces of roe, add the cup of green peas, season to taste and serve on pieces of toast, or in individual ramekins.

Creamed Roe, with Shrimps

  • 1 cup parboiled roe, free from skin and cut in pieces
  • 1 cup shrimp meat, fresh or canned, cut in pieces
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 4 tablespoons oil or butter
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 teaspoons anchovy essence
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper

Put the milk on to heat. In another saucepan heat the oil or butter. Sift in the flour, stir together, add the hot milk, whipping together until very smooth. Add the roe and the shrimps, season with the anchovy essence, which will color it slightly pink, and the lemon juice, salt and pepper. Serve on toast.

Available from Amazon in paperback and eBook format

The Greatest Sausage RecipesThe Art of Making Vegetarian SausagesMeat Smoking and Smokehouse DesignPolish SausagesThe Art of Making Fermented SausagesHome Production of Quality Meats and SausagesSauerkraut, Kimchi, Pickles, and RelishesHome Canning of Meat, Poultry, Fish and VegetablesCuring and Smoking FishHome Production of Vodkas, Infusions, and Liqueurs