This Mexican-Style Fish Egg Recipe features a cumin and cornmeal breading, and an easy cilantro-lime gremolata. This fish egg fry is a deliciously unique way to reduce fish waste by using the less-desirable parts of the fish (offal). The cilantro-lime gremolata adds a fresh twist to the fish roe and their crunchy coating. Served with charred corn and a fresh tomato and tomatillo salad, it's a healthy Mexican-inspired meal!
👩🏻🍳 Tamara Talks - About Fish Eggs Recipes
Why would I want to eat fish roe? Two important reasons come to mind: 1. Fish eggs are delicious and healthy! 2. Using as much of the fish as possible reduces waste, and promotes sustainability. Most people eat only the fillets. The throats and fish eggs are high in protein, delicious, and worth a look...
Sheepshead - and many other fish - produce egg masses where the individual eggs are hard to spot (unlike caviar, salmon roe, and uni). My photos in this post are from the sheepshead we caught recently in the Gulf of Mexico.
I grew up in a family of fishermen/women. We did not waste the fish eggs. My Dad fried them up when he made hush puppies. Decades later, eating mindfully, and not wanting to waste nutritious food, I decided to learn to cook them myself. I do not shy away from cooking offal. In fact, I embrace it. 😉 At the bottom of this post, you'll find some of my offal recipes.
Of course I had to put a Latin spin on them! The buttermilk and cornmeal breading includes ground cumin, garlic, and onion powder, but the zesty lime-cilantro gremolata is decidedly Mexican-style. It provides a fresh, spicy, tart burst of flavor that goes really well with the crunchy exterior of the creamy fish eggs. I do hope you'll give this unique recipe a try!
Are fish eggs healthy?
Yes, but only in moderation. They are relatively high in cholesterol, and can be high in sodium. Fortunately, the fresh fish eggs like the ones I've used for this Mexican-style fish egg recipe came from the sheepshead we caught a few weeks ago while fishing in the Gulf of Mexico.
Like fish oil, the eggs contain mostly healthy fats. They are a good source of protein, vitamin B12, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids. They contain little or no carbohydrates. Fish eggs, eaten occasionally, can definitely be part of your healthy diet. For more information, see Fish Egg Nutrition Facts.
📋 Ingredients You'll Need
Here is a quick look at the ingredients in the recipe – it’s handy to use at the grocery store or as a summary of what you need. Skip to the recipe for quantities.
- lime zest
- fresh chile - I like a pepper with a bit of heat like a Fresno chile or a red jalapeño because I love colorful food. You can substitute a green jalapeño, serrano, or even a bell pepper (if you don't want the heat).
- garlic - You want to use 1 good sized clove of very fresh garlic. It is a key component of a gremolata, but you don't want to overwhelm the freshness of the other ingredients. This is not a good time to use your jar of minced garlic!
- salt - I collect gourmet salts. I do like a little texture of a somewhat coarse sea salt in this gremolata recipe. Choose your favorite, but don't use grinder salt.
Cornmeal Breaded Fish Roe
- fish eggs/roe - This is a great recipe for unprocessed fresh or fresh frozen fish eggs, especially when you've been fishing. It is not intended for cured fish eggs, salted fish eggs, or any other processed fish egg product. You can use this same recipe and process for fish, shellfish, or even chicken.
- ground cumin
- smoked paprika
- onion powder
- garlic powder
- Make the cilantro-lime gremolata - A traditional gremolata is lemon, garlic, and parsley. It is a chopped condiment that requires no juice. We're using cilantro in place of the parsley, lime zest instead of lemon, and adding in a finely minced fresh chile pepper. Pulse until minced. DO NOT OVER-PROCESS!
- Make the cornmeal mixture - Combine cornmeal breading ingredients in a bowl that is big enough to accommodate the fish eggs.
- Set up the breading bowls - You'll have one bowl for buttermilk, and one bowl for the cornmeal mixture.
- Coat the fish roe - After dipping the fish roe in the buttermilk on both sides, press it into the cornmeal mixture to generously coat on both sides.
- Pan fry the fish roe - Heat about ¼ cup of vegetable oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is very hot but not smoking, gently place the fish roe in the skillet. DON'T CROWD THE PAN! Don't disturb the fish until you're certain it's crispy brown.
- Finish the fish roe - Carefully turn the fish roe over. It should be browned and crispy looking. Another 5 minutes should be about right.
- Keep the fish egg portions warm in a 200° oven. Remove any excess oil with paper towels.
- To serve - Plate the fried fish eggs, and then top with the cilantro-lime gremolata. Enjoy immediately!
Fish eggs tend to be high in sodium. Don't assume they need added salt.
Defrost your fish eggs slowly. Thaw them in the refrigerator for the best results. This will probably take 24 hours. This preserves the texture of the fish eggs. DO NOT REFREEZE FISH EGGS!
Let the fish eggs come to room temperature before pan frying. You'll get crispier results.
If doing multiple batches, keep the cooked fish eggs in a 200° oven.
What is "roe?"
Roe is a general word for collected eggs of marine animals. Eggs and roe are used interchangeably.
What do fish eggs taste like?
If your reference point is caviar or salmon eggs, you will experience something very different. Fish roe from a fish like sheepshead is more the texture of paté. The flavor is salty, umami, and creamy. It is somewhat mild. We really enjoy it!
What is the difference between caviar and fish roe?
Caviar and roe are both fish roe (eggs), but caviar is a specific kind of roe from the sturgeon family that has been cured. The taste and texture are different, and they're quite high in sodium.
Can I freeze fish roe?
Yes. You can freeze fish roe up to 3 months. Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap before storing in an airtight container. Exposure to air is the enemy. For more on storing fish roe, see Can You Freeze Fish Roe.
I am always curious (and a little worried) about the response to recipes like this fish egg recipe that use less-common ingredients (especially offal). Leave me a comment in the "Comments" section if you have feedback?
Mexican-Style Fish Roe Recipe
- ½ cup cilantro leaves - packed; stems removed
- 1 red jalapeño - stems and seeds removed; cut in chunks
- 1 large clove garlic - cut in 3 or 4 pieces
- 1 lime - zested
- ½ teaspoon sea salt - see Ingredients in post
Breaded and Fried Fish Eggs
- 24 ounces fish egg portions
- 1 cup cornmeal
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 cup buttermilk
- ¼ cup vegetable or canola oil - plus or minus to shallow fry
- Add gremolata ingredients to the bowl of a small food processor. Pulse until minced.
- Combine cornmeal breading ingredients in a bowl. After dipping the fish roe in the buttermilk on both sides, press it into the cornmeal mixture to generously coat on both sides.
- Add about ¼ cup (¼" depth) to a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Gently place the fish roe in the skillet. Fry until browned and crispy before gently turning (about 5-6 minutes per side).
- To serve - Top the fried fish egg portions with the cilantro-lime gremolata. Enjoy!
NOTE: Macronutrients are an approximation only using unbranded ingredients and MyFitnessPal.com. Please do your own research with the products you’re using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.