Capelin Caviar: Taste, Uses, and Health Benefits

Capelin caviar is a type of fish roe that comes from capelin, a small forage fish belonging to the smelt family. Capelin caviar has a deep reddish-orange hue and a mildly salty, nutty taste. Compared to other caviar varieties, capelin caviar offers great value and global production is expected to reach 15,000 tons by 2025 according to Mordor Intelligence.

When harvested at the right time, capelin roe has a satisfying pop and creamy texture prized by chefs. Its affordable price point also makes it more accessible to home cooks looking to incorporate caviar into recipes. The global capelin caviar market is projected to grow at a CAGR of 10.2% from 2020 to 2025 as reported by Market Research Future.

 Raw salmon with red caviar

What Does Capelin Caviar Taste Like?

Capelin caviar has a smooth, creamy mouthfeel and a sweet, mildly briny flavor. The small eggs provide a delicate pop when bitten into. The taste is often described as nutty or earthy, lacking the overt fishiness found in some other roes.

Compared to the bold, saline punch of sturgeon or salmon caviar, capelin caviar makes up for its more demure flavor with an approachable price point. It offers an affordable way for cooks to add a touch of richness and the satisfaction of that signature caviar “pop” to recipes.

How is Capelin Caviar Used in Cooking?

Delicate capelin caviar adapts well to a variety of dishes. Its small pearls feel equally at home topping blini as they do nestled atop sushi. Here are some of the most popular ways to showcase capelin caviar:

1. As a Topping for Canapés

A traditional and elegant preparation, capelin caviar makes a visually stunning garnish for bite-sized toasts or crackers. Its briny taste provides the perfect contrast to rich creams and butter. For delicious canapés, top toasted brioche rounds with crème fraîche, cream cheese, or goat cheese then finish with a spoonful of glistening orange caviar.

2. In Sushi Rolls

The flavors and textures of capelin caviar pair beautifully with raw fish and rice. When making homemade sushi, consider replacing salmon roe with more affordable capelin caviar. Its smaller pearls and subtler brine won’t overpower the other ingredients. For stunning presentation, press capelin caviar along the top of the roll.

3. As a Garnish for Soups and Salads

A sprinkling of capelin caviar transforms basic soups and salads into elegant starters. Adorn chilled cucumber yogurt soup with orange capelin eggs for contrasting flavor, temperature, and texture. For salads, capelin caviar makes a nutritious protein boost topping mixed field greens or even perks up timeless wedge salads when spooned over crisp bacon bits and blue cheese crumbles.

4. In Pasta Dishes

In both hot and cold pasta preparations, capelin caviar offers a salty accent. Mix the roe into carbonara or Alfredo sauce just before serving for an extra creamy texture pop. For room-temperature pasta salads full of vegetables, capelin caviar contributes a pleasant crunch. It also makes an easy weeknight dinner more special when spooned over simple spaghetti aglio e olio.

5. As an Ingredient in Sauces and Dressings

Beyond pasta, capelin caviar can amplify all kinds of sauces and dressings. Whisk it into Hollandaise sauce for poached eggs or vegetable medleys. Create an upgraded tartar sauce for seafood by folding in some capelin roe. For creamy salad dressings, add the popping pearls to Green Goddess, blue cheese, ranch, or Caesar dressing.

What are the Health Benefits of Capelin Caviar?

In addition to its culinary versatility and wallet-friendly price, capelin caviar also delivers impressive nutrition. Here are some of the top health benefits this fish roe offers:

1. High in Omega-3 Fatty Acids

All fish eggs provide omega-3 fatty acids, and capelin caviar is no exception. In fact,capelin roe contains 112 mg of omega-3s per ounce, noted the Norwegian Seafood Council. Omega-3s offer anti-inflammatory effects and cardiovascular benefits such as improved blood pressure and triglyceride levels. They also promote brain and eye health.

2. Rich Source of Protein

Capelin caviar packs a hefty protein punch, with approximately 14 grams of protein per ounce according to data from Seafood Nutrition Partnership. Protein plays vital roles in building muscle mass and supporting metabolic function. As a low-calorie source of this important macronutrient, capelin caviar makes a smart addition to any diet.

3. Contains Essential Vitamins and Minerals

In addition to protein, capelin eggs deliver a range of micronutrients. An ounce of capelin roe contains 7% of the recommended daily vitamin C, 6% of vitamin A, and 4% of vitamin D noted Seafood Nutrition Partnership. These vitamins promote immune function and healthy bones, skin, and eyes. The roe also provides iron, selenium, magnesium and potassium.

4. Low in Calories and Fat

For dieters watching their waistlines, capelin caviar makes a slimming substitute for fattier sturgeon caviars. With only 50 calories and 1 gram of fat per ounce, according to data from the Seafood Nutrition Partnership, capelin eggs provide all the indulgent pleasure of caviar without the added calories. Enjoy capelin caviar guilt-free as part of a healthy, well-balanced diet.

Sushi on a black rounded plate

How to Store Capelin Caviar Properly?

To retain maximum freshness and that signature “pop”, proper storage of capelin caviar is key. Keep the following tips in mind:

  • Store unopened capelin caviar in the refrigerator, never the freezer. Temperatures below 26°F cause the delicate eggs to break down.
  • Once opened, press plastic wrap directly on the surface of the caviar before sealing the container to prevent exposure to air. Use within 3-4 days.
  • When adding capelin caviar to hot dishes, stir it in just before serving to avoid overcooking the eggs. High heat causes them to turn mushy.

Where to Buy Quality Capelin Caviar?

China leads global production of capelin caviar, generating over 70% of total output according to GlobeNewswire. Secondary producers include Canada, Norway, Japan, and the United States. Reputable caviar purveyors source capelin roe harvested sustainably from Canada’s East Coast fisheries.

When buying capelin caviar, look for providers specializing in high-quality caviar and seafood that describe production practices and sources. Seek jars or tins with at least a few months before the “best by” date for freshest flavor and texture. Once opened, store capelin caviar as directed above to retain that distinctive, satisfying pop.

A person holding chopsticks with sushi on a plate

Is Capelin Caviar Sustainable?

Environmental advocates classify capelin fisheries as sustainable. These small, prolific forage fish reproduce rapidly, reaching maturity in 2-4 years. They travel in large schools numbering in the billions, so population levels rebound quickly after responsible harvests.

Canada’s capelin fishery holds a “Green/Best Choice” rating from Seafood Watch. The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certifies capelin fisheries in Iceland, Norway, and Canada for their well-managed, sustainable practices. When buying caviar, look for MSC certification to support ecologically sound capelin sources.

How Does Capelin Caviar Compare to Other Types of Caviar?

While other roes surpass it in prestige, capelin caviar outpaces the competition in affordability. Traditionally the domain of czars and aristocrats, today sturgeon caviar remains an extravagance at up to $100 an ounce. Salmon and trout caviars cost less but still limit everyday use for most.

In contrast, prices for an ounce of quality capelin caviar average around just $10 according to Caviar Centre. That makes incorporating this nutritious and delicious egg delicacy into recipes relatively wallet-friendly.

For cooks seeking an entry point to experimenting with caviar’s unique texture and flavors without breaking the bank, capelin caviar offers the perfect solution. It provides a user-friendly alternative to pricier varieties that still delivers an elegant touch of indulgence.