How do you like your fish roe?

casaveneracion.com fish roe

Speedy grew up with five siblings. He’s the third from the youngest, the age difference between him and the oldest is, I think, seven years. He still recalls how they’d all scramble over “choice cuts” during meals. The bangus belly, for instance. Agawan, as he put it.

One of the perks of being one of only two siblings is that there was never really any occasion for my brother and I to bicker over the “choice cuts.” When we had chicken, for instance, since a chicken has only two legs and two thighs, I’d be given a leg and a thigh and my brother would get the other leg and thigh. When we had bangus (milkfish), there was more than enough of the belly to divide between the two of us.

What we never had to divide between us were fish eggs. I’ve loved fish eggs for as long as can remember; my brother couldn’t care less. Our grandmother was fond of buying small fish called biya (I hear it’s now almost extinct) which she’d fry until golden and crisp. The ones that had eggs were automatically given to me.

When Sam and Alex were old enough to eat fish, I introduced them to fish eggs. For some reason, they did not take to fish eggs. Perhaps, they take after their father. Although Speedy eats fish eggs, he does not go gaga over them the way I do. So, when I bring home a fish from the market and I discover that it has eggs, I don’t have any real competition.

But fish eggs the size you see in the photo… well, that’s just an appetizer for me. What I like are the large ones — the ones sold by the kilo. Very rare here in this hilly suburb where we live but whenever we go to Farmer’s Market where eggs of very large salmon, tuna, blue marlin and maya-maya are everywhere, I start acting like a darn hoarder. If I can just keep them in the freezer indefinitely, I’d buy five kilos every time. Sadly, fish eggs are best cooked and eaten on the same day that there are bought. So, I only buy what I can eat within a day.

And just how do I like to eat fish eggs? Although I’ve no objections to eating them raw (in Japanese restaurants, they are served raw), I feel unsatisfied if I get only a sprinkling. I like to eat fish eggs in generous portions. Medium-sized eggs in their sacs, I like to grill or fry until crisp along the edges but barely cooked at the center. Then, I dip them in a mixture of calamansi juice and soy sauce.

The rather large ones, I put in my soup. Like this and this. I never overcook them. As with fried fish eggs, I cook the fish eggs in simmering broth just long enough so that the innermost parts are almost raw.

Sounds too peasant? I know, right? But I grew up with neither Russian caviar nor Japanese ikura and tobiko. As far as I’m concerned, they are expensive delicacies that are nice to have occasionally but they do not define the essence of fish roe. A sprinkling of tobiko on my sushi is too little fish eggs. Salted and cured fish eggs such as caviar are, well, I like the natural taste of fish eggs.

So, okay, I’m a peasant when it comes to fish eggs. I’ll wear the hat proudly.

But is fish roe good for you and me? Let’s see… I searched Almighty Google and found two articles that appear credible (I really don’t go to Yahoo! Answers, ok?). The first is from Science Daily which cites a study published in the European Journal of Lipid Science and Technology. The study’s findings: fish roe — especially from lumpsucker, hake or salmon — is a great source of Omega 3 fatty acids.

The conclusions of the study also show that minimal consumption of lumpsucker, hake or salmon roe satisfies the human body’s Omega 3 essential fatty acid requirements, because of its levels of EPA y DHA. A lack of these compounds is associated with cardiovascular disease, hypertension, depression, diabetes, poor development of the nervous and reproductive systems, and inflammatory diseases, such as Crohn’s disease. [Read more: Roe of Marine Animals Is Best Natural Source of Omega-3]

The second is from Northern Aqua Farms.

A single 150 gram serving of fish or other seafood provides from 50%-60% of daily protein needs of an adult. All seafood is low in fat, generally less than 5%. The majority of fish types are low in cholesterol with the exception of prawns, squid and fish roe. However the higher amounts of cholesterol in these foods is offset by the higher levels of beneficial EPA and DHA omega 3 oils that they contain.
In comparison with meat, most seafood types have similar levels of cholesterol, but only a fraction of the saturated fat. A 150 gram fillet of fresh fish has less than 1 gram of fat and most of this fat is polyunsaturated. [Read more: Fish Seafood and Healthy Eating]

The links to the full articles are there — you decide whether the good outweighs the not-so-good or vice versa.

Personally? I just love fish roe, period.