Caviar and roe

Kaviar och rom

Caviar of Kalix

The large mass of eggs inside the ovary of female fish is called the roe. When the roe of some fish, particularly sturgeon, vendace (whitefish), bleak, trout, salmon or lumpfish, is processed it is turned into caviar. (Some people keep the term caviar for the processed roe from sturgeon and so refer to other processed roe by the name of the fish, such as salmon roe, but this is becoming less common.)

Kalix löjrom

Kalix-roe-280-3008

Kalix löjrom ("Caviar of Kalix") is the king of Swedish caviars. It is the only Swedish product with Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status, issued by the European Union. It is a prized delicacy which is served at special occasions such as Nobel Banquets, Royal Weddings and other celebrations.

Vendace

Vendace-280

Kalix löjrom is produced from the roe from vendace fish swimming in the lightly salted water off the coast of Kalix in northern Sweden. They are quite small and only grow to about 20 cm (8"). (Vendace are occasionally found in the UK although they are Britain's rarest fish.)

Vendace-fried-280

Generally vendace are considered fairly unimportant in culinary terms with very little demand for them as food, but they can be coated in breadcrumbs and lightly fried. However, the vendace off the coast of Kalix are far more significant because the colour and flavour of the roe from the fish swimming there is particularly good.

Fishing for vendace off the Kalix coast is strictly controlled and takes place during the spawning season which begins on September 20th and lasts until the of October. The fishing has no significant impact on the fish stock, but the yield of roe varies considerably from year to year for a reason which is not understood.

Processing

Once caught, the fish are sorted by sex as only the females produce sought-after roe. The roe has to be extracted by hand. This is a highly skilled job: each female vendace produces about 2 teaspoons of roe, which has to be rinsed, dried and lightly salted before it can be labelled as Kalix löjrom.

Distinctive nature

For various reasons the roe has a more orange or red colour than most vendace roe and it has a more mild and subtle taste.

Marketing in English

Kalix löjrom is usually sold under its Swedish name, but it is also marketed in English as "Caviar of Kalix".

Kalix löjrom på rågbröd

Caviar from Kalix on rye bread

One of the simplest ways of serving Kalix löjrom is on rye bread with some gräddfil or soured cream mixed with some finely chopped red onion. More…

Kalix löjromscocktail med avokado och räkor

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Kalix löjrom can be eaten on its own in a small snaps glass, but it is perhaps best served with prawns and avocado as a starter. More…

Rårakor med Kalix löjrom

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Another popular way of serving Kalix löjrom is with rårakor (potato cakes), diced red onion and gräddfil or crème fraîche. More…

Toast Skagen

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Kalix löjrom is often used as a garnish on fish dishes such as toast Skagen (prawns on toast), but you can always substitute other forms as caviar such as trout or, as shown here, salmon. More…

Storing Kalix löjrom

Frozen Kalix löjrom can be stored well for many months. When required, allow it defrost slightly, remove what you need and then return the rest to the freezer for another time. I know one Swede who claims to have done this about 60 times.

Alternatives to Kalix löjrom

Roe-and-tangkorn-280

Kalix löjrom is available from specialist stores and online. There really isn't anything quite like Kalix löjrom, but if you can't find any you might try a completely different type of roe such as trout, salmon, lumpfish, herring or, for vegetarians or vegans, use tångkorn*. However, it is important to stress that the colour, taste and texture of the substitutes is completely different to Kalix löjrom.

*Tångkorn is a vegan substitute made from seaweed.

Approximate costs

Prices do vary with quality and supplier, but the following is a rough guide to enable costs to be compared.

Type of caviar Approximate cost for 100g
Beluga sturgeon £480
Kalix £20
Trout £14
Salmon £10
Lumpfish £4
Tångkorn* £2


Christer Frånlund

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