There are many sorts of different roe kinds that are used in the modern gourmet cuisine and in the everyday life as a more affordable substitute for the true Sturgeon black caviar and the red Salmon roe. Many fish specimens have edible roe that has a similar texture, taste, and even in certain cases even flavor. One of these kinds of caviar is Lumpfish.
Lumpfish caviar is known for many hundreds of years but for a pretty long period of time, it was mainly consumed by the native people of Scandinavia. This product is quite often called Iceland caviar for the main country of origin but nowadays it is also harvested and exported by Swedish fisheries too.
Yes, we can call it 'caviar' but only for its visual resemblance to the original and exclusive appearance of the Sturgeon caviar harvested from the fish in the Caspian sea basin or more likely at the Sturgeon aquafarms in Israel, Italy, France or sunny California. The beads of the Lumpfish roe are not very big but they have a similar texture — they rather pop in the mouth then crunch after a light pressure of the tongue filling it with briny juice with a distinct marine and a little bit fishy flavor. There is no nutty or creamy flavor like with the Sturgeon roe but it has its own pretty interesting taste and flavor that is quite attractive.
The original color of Lumpfish roe varies in a wide range of pale yellow to brown, so most of the time it is marketed in naturally dyed versions:
Some companies offer it also in golden color but it is quite seldom. The color of the Lumpfish roe doesn't influence the taste a lot and is intended for decorative use only. These kinds of caviar are very often used by the catering services to substitute the expensive true black and red caviar at cocktail parties, they are also widely used for the decoration purposes for hors d'oeuvres, canapes, sauces, salads, pasta, risotto, omelets, and any other dish your fantasy offers you to include caviar. Main advantage — is the extremely wallet friendly Lumpfish caviar price.
Lumpfish caviar is a great sustainable alternative for the Sturgeon caviar which is very important for those who care about nature.
Lumpfish is a small fish inhabiting the cold waters of Northern Atlantic ocean in abundance. It definitely can't be called an attractive species but nobody is perfect. The adult specimens are growing not more that 50cm, their nearly spherical bodies are surrounded by radial fins. All the Lumpfish family members due to their body form and building are, so to say, not very good swimmers. Most of the time they are spending on the bottom, where they usually prey on the comb jellies, invertebrates, mollusks, and crustaceans.
One of the peculiarities of this kind of fish are the incredible pelvic fins that have evolved into adhesive discs allowing the fish to stick to a solid ground and hunt for its prey. They spawn in the tidal waters and despite their body form and poor swimming abilities they may travel over large distances to meet their spawning spot. The commercial fishing of the Lumpfish got a new start in the 1960's when after the decline of the Sturgeon species in their natural habitat has stimulated the search for alternative sources of roe and caviar. Before this, Lumpfish was consumed basically by the native Scandinavians and was considered as a side catch.