steelhead roe market [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: steelhead roe market

01-03-2005, 12:44 PM
An interesting article ran in the Dec 29 SF Chronicle ... now I know where the tribes are making their 10 bucks a fish on wild steelhead, read on ...

Wednesday, December 29, 2004 (SF Chronicle)
Roe, roe, roe your trout
Olivia Wu

The call for "caviar and Champagne" chimes through the holidays, but for
many in the seafood subculture it's "roe and radish."
Roe in this instance refers to the eggs of the steelhead trout, freshly
harvested from Washington state's winter run. And radish refers to daikon,
the white icicle-shaped vegetable of the raphanus family, crisper and
sweeter in cold weather than at any other time of year.
Caviar and Champagne cater to luxury tastes, but can be had anytime.
However, the little-known steelhead roe and humble daikon are truly
seasonal and worthy of celebratory status.
Steelhead are a variety of trout that swim out to sea and return to their
rivers of origin to spawn. In other words, they are trout that behave like
salmon. They can be caught during a short window of time that peaks in
December and January, and draws to an end in April.
Their eggs resemble scarlet salmon eggs, except that they are crisper and
a deeper red. When fresh-cured, they explode and crunch in the mouth with
lovely, ephemeral flavor. The price, at about $11 per pound, is a fraction
of the cost of premium canned salmon roe at $9 per two ounces, canned
trout roe at $17 per two ounces and American osetra at $63 per ounce.
Still, most Americans have yet to discover this delicacy. Google
"steelhead roe" on your computer and thousands of hits on fish bait and
game fishing spring up on the screen.
More's the pity.
However, a handful of Bay Area restaurants, such as Oliveto in Oakland
Rubicon in San Francisco, are privy to the secrets of the roe and welcome
the season. So do many Japanese and Russian cooks. They cure the roe in a
procedure that takes 30 minutes of active preparation. One of the methods,
using hot water, takes even less time.
Once made, the cured eggs can be refrigerated for two weeks, easy to
over toast points and sour cream. Inventive chefs are putting them on
smoked fish, over salads, pastas and soups, in appetizers and main dishes.
You couldn't ask for fresher, more stunning -- and less expensive --
luxury food.
Chefs-in-the-know guard the cured roe zealously, parceling it out in
select preparations. Katsu Matsuda, chef-owner of Sushi On North Beach
(745 Columbus Ave., San Francisco) whispers the news to long-time patrons
from behind the sushi bar. If the clients are extra-special, Matsuda sends
out Misore Ae -- "melting snow mix." The dish combines sweet-spicy grated
daikon with the salty, crunchy roe raining down on the "cooling snow."
It's a fabulous contrast in color, flavor and texture.
Matsuda uses the highest quality mirin (sweet wine) and tamari soy to
the roe. The dish is likely even better than what you might taste in
Japan, because steelhead trout don't run there and chefs generally use the
eggs of chum salmon.
Steelhead roe is truly an American local and seasonal delicacy. Plus, the
steelhead are caught and harvested in a clean fishery that supports small
fishing families and protects the trout and their environment.
The law permits just two American Indian tribes, the Quinault and the
Quileute, to fish commercially for steelhead, long a revered game fish
along the coast. In an outcome of the historical struggles between the
Quinaults and the Washington state government, the tribe now has
commercial access to the steelhead run, says Peter Redmayne, marketing
manager for Quinault Pride Seafood.
The 50-odd independent Quinault fishing families traditionally have used
practices that sustain the resource. The reservation lies along the
pristine Olympic Peninsula, with the main town, Tahola, set at the mouth
of the Quinault River.
The steelhead are caught right along the line where river meets ocean
water, and processed at a plant within minutes of where the boats perch.
Unlike salmon, steelhead trout do not die after spawning. They return to
the ocean, and tribal monitors make sure enough of the post-spawn fish
return to sea to sustain the fishery. This state of affairs make steelhead
roe a conscionable buy and great alternative for holiday crunching.
Two major wholesalers deal in steelhead roe. Monterey Fish represents the
Quinault; and Steve & Mike Shellfish represent the Quileute.
Premium seafood stores, such as Antonelli's, Ferry Plaza Seafood and
Market, all in San Francisco; Hapaku in Oakland's Rockridge district;
Berkeley Bowl and Monterey Fish in Berkeley; Crystal Springs Fish and
Poultry Market in San Mateo, as well as various ethnic fish markets are
among the stores that carry steelhead roe or are willing to order it.
However, always call beforehand about availability.
As of earlier this week, the roe was selling for $11 to $13 a pound. It
comes in 1/2- to 1 1/2-pound skeins, or whole egg sacks.
The trickiest part in curing the roe, largely a salting process, is to
remove and separate the eggs, but Tom Worthington of Monterey Fish has an
easy method. He brines the skein in warm water to shrink it, which exposes
and loosens the eggs. Matsuda removes the eggs by hand in a more laborious
process, using only cold water. (See accompanying recipes for both
techniques.) Once made, the roe keeps for 2 weeks or longer, perfect to
pull out of the refrigerator over the holiday weekend to serve with
crackers; to top sushi, salads, smoked fish, pasta or rice; or to serve in
Matsuda's classic preparation of Misore Ae (see recipe).
That's his formal dish. Push him a little and he may have other creations
on hand to serve you. He'll admit that when he's eating by himself, he
goes one step further: "I make a thick sandwich."
That's affordable luxury any time.

Easy-Cure Steelhead Trout Roe
The roe comes whole in a sack called a skein, which weighs 1/2 to 1 1/2
pounds. This is a quick method that eases the work of separating the eggs
from the sack and bits of membrane that connect the eggs. Throughout,
handle the eggs gently so as not to burst them. After curing, let the eggs
sit for two hours before tasting to get the full effect of the brining. As
the eggs cool, they become bright and transparent.
3 quarts water, at 100
1 cup kosher salt
1 skein steelhead roe, about 1 pound (see Note)
In a large glass or stainless steel bowl, combine the warm water and
The salt should dissolve completely. Immerse the whole skein in the salt
water for 30 minutes.
Have your faucet running in a gentle stream at the hottest temperature
can tolerate. Place a clean colander in the sink.
Gently lift out the skein, reserving the salt water. Cradle the skein in
both hands under the hot water, rocking it back and forth. The membrane
holding the eggs together will shrink and retract from the eggs, allowing
the individual eggs to fall into the colander. When all the eggs have been
separated, return them gently to the salt water.
Pick through the eggs, separating any small bundles and pulling away
remaining skein. Continue picking through until the eggs are clean.
Slowly tilt the salt water bowl and let the water flow out. Pour the
remaining eggs and water into a colander and drain the eggs well. They may
look a little opaque, but within 15 minutes, will become translucent.
Place the eggs in glass jars and refrigerate. The caviar should last two
Makes about 10 ounces
Note: You may use this easy hot water method without any salt to remove
the eggs from the sack, and then proceed to Katsu Matsuda's recipe.
Nutritional analysis not possible because of the general nature of the

Katsu Matsuda's Ikura & Misore Ae
A special grating tool, the oroshi ki, is best to turn the daikon into
"melting snow." You may use the finest grade of a box grater, but the
result will not be the same. You can find a small plastic version of the
oroshi ki for about $1 at Japanese supermarkets. The tamari-cured roe also
works on toast, blini or latkes, and on salads and soups.
1 skein steelhead roe, about 1 pound
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons sake
2 tablespoons premium mirin
1 tablespoon premium tamari light soy
1 tablespoon Kikkoman soy sauce
Misore Ae
1/3 cup finely grated daikon from the tip end
1/2 teaspoon tamari light soy, for garnish
2 tablespoons ikura (above)
Matsuda uses the following techniques to remove eggs from the sack.
Using a fine trickle of cold, running water, and placing a colander in
sink to catch the eggs, open the membrane sack of the roe and gently run
your fingers through the roe. Scrape the eggs out of the sack. Using your
fingertips, pick out the interconnecting pieces of membrane so the eggs
are individually separated. Tiny pieces of the internal membrane may be
left, but they will dissolve in the salt.
An alternate technique is to use a mesh wire with a 1/2-inch grid (such
you find in some toaster ovens). Open the membrane up first, then begin
gently rubbing the eggs against the wire mesh with the membrane on top.
Let the eggs fall into a glass or stainless steel bowl. Pick out
interconnecting membrane.
(If you have used the hot water method in the recipe above to remove the
eggs, begin here.) Add salt to the eggs. Using your hand, fold the eggs in
toward the center a few times. Allow the eggs to stand for about 1/2 hour
to draw out impurities. Drain in a sieve.
Combine the sake, mirin, tamari and Kikkoman, and pour over the roe.
Refrigerate for 4 hours before using, or up to 2 weeks.
Makes about 10 ounces.
To make 1 serving: Using a circular motion, grate the top 4 or 5 inches
daikon -- the sweetest part of the root -- in the oroshi ki (see
headnote). Save the rest of the daikon for soups or salads. Lightly
squeeze a handful of the slushy daikon to remove excess moisture.
Immediately place the daikon in a cone or mountain shape on a small plate.
Top with 2 tablespoons of cured roe; dot around the "mountain" with
tamari. Serve immediately.
Serves 1
Nutritional analysis not possible because of the general nature of the
Olivia Wu is a Chronicle staff writer. E-mail her at
Copyright 2004 SF Chronicle
Roe, Roe, Roe your trout (

01-03-2005, 12:50 PM
I make something this with the very few trout I keep. My wife is japanese and it is a delicacy.

Not with Wild trout, though. And not with the GL steelhead (pollution!)

01-03-2005, 01:27 PM

The WA State tribes have been selling roe for quite a few years because they make more from the roe than they for the fish. The treaty fishing tribes, of which there are more than just the Quileute and Quinalt Tribes, have been doing this with steelhead, chum, coho, and pink salmon. In fact, several tribes simply buy the chum and pink salmon carcasses from their fishermen because they really only have a market for the roe, about $5.00/lb and the tribes don't want the chum and pink carcasses tossed on the river bank or concentrated in a small part of the river because it would be bad publicity.

Don't you just love the way the SF newspaper is helping to create a bigger market for the steelhead and Pacific salmon caviar? And just think of the great marketing aide this article provides to the Quinalt and Quileute Tribes, who could use it to their advantage to gain higher prices as demand increases. Afterall, didn't the article state that they are the only two tribes allowed to take steelhead? I'm sure other treaty fishing tribes will get in contact with the SF Chronicle to let them know they too are able to fish for steelhead and that they also have steelhead roe available. And let's remember that it is the wild steelhead roe that is the good stuff.

01-03-2005, 01:46 PM
Usually articles like this are in the food or travel sections of a news paper. They are paid for in this case I bet by the tribes. Though when the average person reads the article they do not even know that is how the article got there.

Sort of like the articles in all the fly fish mags on how great a certain river fishes. Somewhere on the page there is always an advertisement for some resorts in the area that the article was written about. Guess who payed for the article to be published and who payed the author.

I know a guy who last year had some of his Salmon pictures published in the NY Times. They were pictures of tribes catching salmon in nets in parts of Alaska where salmon had not been commercially shipped to the lower 48. There was a small article on how good the salmon were, etc. The guy got payed for the pictures not from the Times but by the Tribes marketing agency who also payed the Times for the coverage. And yet there was no word anywhere that said paid for by so and so.

This is how things work in recent times, capital system at its best.