April 14, 2012

New Experiences

Our Alaskan Staycation has been one of many firsts. First time salmon and halibut fishing, first moose and brown bear sightings in the wild, first time living together... lots of firsts and new experiences! While all new experiences have been amazing, one of the most interesting came one night earlier this week when our Sunday dinner friends invited us over to taste something new...

That something new?  Herring roe. Yes, your read that correctly, fish eggs.

Please don't turn up your nose.  Normally that would be my first move, but I've learned to be more open.  Before trying them, I obviously had to ask a million questions. Probably questions similar to those forming in your head as you read this.  Why?  How? Where? And again, why?!

Herring isn't a very glamorous fish.  The only time you ever really come in contact with it is when you are putting a big chunk on your hook to use as bait.  But this small, disregarded fish has a lot of importance to the world.  Not only are they an important part of the food chain in our oceans, they have played an important part in Alaskan subsistence hunters lives as well. The spring harvest of herring eggs has always been an important subsistence resource in coastal communities throughout Alaska. The collection is pretty interesting - In the spring, herring spawn nearshore in protected bays and their adhesive eggs attach to kelp or other vegetation.  Knowing this, subsistence hunters will deliberately place kelp and hemlock boughs in the water nearshore to collect the eggs when the herring spawn. The eggs we tasted were collected in the southeast, near Sitka, AK. 

Does it make you want to dive right in and try them? To be honest with you, they weren't too bad. The only words to describe them are "crunchy ocean", a little bit salty and kind of like pop rocks. Can you picture it?

To Alaskan subsistence hunters, herring roe is as much a tradition and cultural event as it is a food source.  It is a cultural coming together, a time when everyone is eating the same food at the same time. Kind of like what we did when we tried the roe.  Nice glass of wine, good friends, good conversation, and herring eggs. 

Have you tried anything "outside of the box" before?


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