Saturday, 13 October 2012

Herring Roe on Toast

A recent trip to my local Sainsbury's turned up an interesting find: there seemed to be a new Basics item in the tinned fish aisle, near the Basics Tuna. At £1.19 for 125g though it certainly was not cheap, compared to the sardines it was next to, or even the Basics Tuna itself. This was Herring Roe though, and if memory serves, the next best thing was caviar, certainly out of reach for most people. Curiosity got the better of me and I bought a tin home.

Further research on the Internet revealed that the Basics Herring Roe was merely a rebrand from their own-brand range, similar to what they did with the Grated Hard Cheese some time ago, with a price drop of 20p. Herring roe was traditionally enjoyed amongst the working classes but fell out of fashion over the last several years. There has been a recent surge however in interest in cheap fish like pollock and mackeral, perhaps driven by the recent economic crisis, and as part of this trend, last year Waitrose reported healthy sales of fresh herring roe. One could infer that the Sainsbury's rebrand is to encourage people with lower budgets to try it as an occasional treat, in other words, a poor man's caviar.

I bought Basics Part-Baked Baguettes along with the herring roe to try this. A common suggestion is to serve the herring roe fried with hot buttered toast with lemon squeezed over, so for lunch, while baking the baguette, I pan-fried the herring roe, and then topped the sliced baguette with it.

The taste was surprisingly familiar - I remember my mother deep-frying fish roe along with fish for dinner when I was younger. Overall, it was enjoyable, though I perhaps should have gone with the suggestion to butter the toast before laying the roe on. As noted, it's not cheap, but might be useful as an affordable starter when hosting visitors for dinner.

DescriptionPrice per UnitNo. of servingsTrade-up PremiumTrade-up Benefits
Soft Herring Roe in Brine£1.19125gN/ANot applicable, next suitable alternative is caviar.

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