Fish-roe And Caviar
( Originally Published 1913 )
It is really remarkable that such a useful food as that afforded by fish-eggs is not more used. I have, myself, experimented with the roe of various fishes, even some kinds seldom used. I ate this food daily for some time; and while some of the varieties really have but little taste, when fried in butter, they constitute quite an agreeable and at the same time very nourishing food. They contain much albumin and fat. According to my experience, they are also easily digested.
Fish-eggs are most frequently used in the form of caviar, as the eggs of the sturgeon are called. These fish have from 10 to 20 kilos of roe, which is cleaned and the surrounding skin and fibers removed, and then preserved in salt. The quality of the caviar depends upon the quantity of salt used ; the most expensive is the "malosol" variety, which, as the name indicates (malosol means in Russian "little salt"), contains but little of it. The color of this caviar is not black like that of the cheaper grades, but gray. The taste is very mild. It would be a most excellent food if available for most purses; as it is, a tablespoonful of the finest Astrachan caviar, as an introduction to the meal, can only be partaken of by the rich. The eggs of this variety are much larger than that of the other sorts from fish found in the Elbe River. As far as nourish-ment is concerned, the poorer qualities of caviar are quite good, and, like fish-roes in general, deserve much more appreciation as a food of great nutritive value. According to König, caviar contains 30 per cent. of nitrogenous substance and i6 per cent. fat in its natural state; also 6 per cent. common salt. As has already been said, such large amounts of salt are not good, especially in cases where the kidneys are affected.
The above proportion of salt only occurs usually in the Astrachan caviar; the other varieties contain even more. Niebel says that the caviar made from the Elbe fishes contains from 9 to i I per cent. of common salt.
It is therefore unfortunate that the great nutritive value of caviar cannot be made use of, for when we eat enough to derive nourishment from it we at the same time absorb much of the injurious common salt. We are thus forced to content ourselves with fresh fish-roes as a nourishing food. Caviar, on the other hand, may be taken in small quantities to stimulate the appetite. It does this very energetically, and induces a good flow of digestive fluids. I find, however, that only the "malosol" caviar is easily digested.
A fact which makes fish-eggs even more valuable for us is their content of most valuable nutrients for the brain and nervous system. Gobler states that the eggs of the carp, contain 3.04 per cent. of lecithin and 0.2 per cent. of cerebrin. In order that caviar may not have an injurious effect, it should only be taken when it does not taste sour or too, salty, and when it has no odor.