Fish roe is such a coveted delicacy amongst the local Emirati population in the UAE that we’ve dedicated an entire episode of the Deep Fried podcast to it. Click the player below to tune in. Can’t see the player? Click here!
Seafood is an important part of the local diet given our proximity to the Arabian Gulf and we have a thriving fish market with a lively early morning fish auction and plentiful supplies of fresh and local seafood. If you visit the market, you may notice trays of whitish meat by the fish cleaning section. These are coveted fish roe found by lucky fishmongers who’re cleaning fish and sold for an additional profit.
Technically, these are actually the entire sack of fish roe and quite different in their consumption than more delicate and expensive caviar. Emiratis often spice and fry these fish eggs for a dish called ‘hubool’ which is loved by many, although an acquired taste for the uninitiated. But Emiratis are not alone in their love for these fish roe as we learned on our podcast with two Dubai-based guest speakers—the Emirati-Thai creative genius Mo Abedin from Sticky Rice (Dubai’s favourite Thai restaurant!) and Sauce Beast and the Indian (Mangalorean) chef and baker Deepika Shetty (@shortgirlbakes).
Many seafood-loving communities of India, Thailand and Japan (just to name a few) consider finding roe in a fish as a culinary lottery of sorts! Mo and Deepika shared how people shallow-fry, deep-fry (at your own risk!), cook in curries and grill their fishy loot. We’ve even heard that some families in Kerala cook the fish eggs into omelets!
Tune in to the podcast for our speakers’ recommendations on where to buy fish roe and how to cook them. Or if you’d rather not experiment at home, take Mo’s recommendation and visit Shogun to try their shishamo.
Want more of our scrumptious podcast episodes? Feast on our main podcast page here!
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- Everything you ever wanted to know about cooking and eating fish roe:
- Mo Abedin’s Earliest Memory of Eating Fish Roe: Shishamo
- Emirati Hubool
- Deepika Shetty’s Earliest Memory of Eating Fish Roe: Mangalorean Fish Curry
- Fish Roe in a Tube: Kalles Kaviar
- How to Cook Fish Roe: Deep Frying
- How to Cook Fish Roe: Poaching in Fish Curry
- How to Cook Fish Roe: Three More Techniques
- Mo’s Last Words: Being Adventurous
- Mo’s Last Words: Cuttlefish Roe
- Deepika’s Last Word: Experience Helps
Hey there! I’m your host, Arva Ahmed and thanks for joining me on the show that’s inspired by flavors of the East. This podcast celebrates the Old World flavors that we as storytellers, content creators and food tour guides with Frying Pan Adventures have discovered in Dubai.
And one of those flavors is the flavor of fish eggs. Actually, let me be more precise. What I’m talking about is very different from delicate, wobbly caviar or salted fish roe, I’m actually talking about the entire sack. So, think of an ovary full of eggs, not cured, just straight up, as it is, deep-fried.
Now, I’m going to just say straight up that the two times that I’ve tried this: once it was, I think, barbecued and the other time it was definitely deep-fried; both times, I’ve not really gotten what it’s all about. And that’s why I recently posted this on social media to ask people, what’s the deal with sacks of fish eggs?
Like, is this something that people really enjoy? And it turns out people who love fish egg sacks are really vocal about it. I was overwhelmed by the flood of childhood memories and recipes that this one innocent Instagram post unleashes. And so clearly there’s something here that I know I’ve missed and I’ve got to give it another try before I decide that maybe, just maybe, it’s really not my thing.
So in this episode, I’ve invited two well known culinary voices in Dubai who hailed from that very passionate and vocal camp of fish-egg-sack-lovers. The two of them were very much a part of the discussion online and so we wanted to capture their thoughts on this fishy topic right here on Deep Fried.
So first up, returning to the show from a few episodes ago during Ramadan is the brilliant and wildly hilarious Mo Abedin. He was born in Bangkok to a Thai mother and an Emirati father, and now he lives in Dubai where he and his mom Amena Rakkuson opened the doors to Sticky Rice, a Thai restaurant in JVC (Jumeirah Village Circle), which has gained a massive cult following across the city.
But Sticky Rice is just one of Mo’s many creative pursuits. He’s also the creator of the Raiiken comic series, he designs toys, he has a food travel blog called Sauce Beast, and he is an adventurous eater and a cook himself. We adore this creative wizard, 99% of the time—the 1% when we’re a little skeptical is when he’s lobbying for fries in his shawarma.
Hey Mo! Welcome back to the show.
Mo: You needed to bring up the fries in the shawarma thing dude, low blow immediately, right from the get-go. I think you’re trying to start some kind of war.
Arva: You know that every time you’re going to be back on the show, it’s always going to come up. Never gonna let that slide.
Mo: Who does that? Anyway, so this is about fish egg sacks, and thank you for such a lovely introduction. I really appreciate it
Arva: Well, it’s great to have you back on the show.
Mo: This 1% is good. I think that’s good. We have to have the 1%. Yeah, there’s this…
Arva: Little bit of controversy is always good.
Mo: Little bit of controversy is nice.
Arva: Next up, let’s go to a lady who is making her debut on Deep Fried.
She’s a certified chef, wife and mom-of-two, who hails from Mangalore in India and she lives in Dubai now—Deepika Shetty. She is more popularly known by her Instagram handle @shortgirlbakes, which is a dead giveaway for her love for baking and desserts.
But when she’s not experimenting with mini apple pie pockets or crafting Harry Potter themed vanilla cakes, Deepika is out hunting and showcasing traditional recipes. And that’s more often than not how we’ve actually connected in the past—chatting online about everything from Pakistani bun kebabs to South Indian filter coffee, and most recently, fish eggs.
Hey Deepika, it’s so, so good to have you on the show.
Deepika: Hi, I’m actually so happy to be here too.
Arva: Well, thank you both for joining me.
I’m really excited to unpack these sacks of fish eggs. I feel like we need an easier way to refer to them and I don’t want to say ovaries, so I’m just going to continue saying sacks of fish eggs until one of you…
Mo: I think we need an R-rated podcast with the amount of times that we’re going to say sack, I think we should just drop the sack, no pun intended, and just call it fish eggs.
Deepika: Just fish eggs.
Arva: Alright, done. So we’re just going to call it fish eggs on the show, but know that we’re not referring to just the tiny little eggs, but the entire case of eggs, alright? Okay.
Mo: Sacks and package. Great, fantastic. We’re off to a great start here guys.
Arva: I’m so excited to see where this goes.
Alright, so Mo you actually responded to that one Instagram post of ours on deep-fried fish egg sacks, or deep-fried fish eggs by posting this entire video of you making them.
Mo: No, hold on, that’s not how it happened.
So how it happened was you guys posted something about fish eggs, and I went, “That is ludicrous. How do you not like this stuff?”
And then I had dinner and that was when the eureka moment came because I was eating a fried mackerel for dinner. And as I was going through the mackerel I was like, “Woah, hold on a second. What’s that?”
And then lo and behold, there were fish eggs in my mackerel. And I was like, “Hey, I was just speaking to Arva about this the other day. Like, Oh my goodness.” Yeah, so I started tagging you in my beautiful find inside my fried mackerel.
Mo: That’s how that happened and then you started sharing that and then you had a poll about it.
Arva: Well that video was single-handedly responsible for unleashing all this pent up love that I didn’t know people had for these fish eggs, okay?
So we were just bombarded with message after message. And that’s why I think you’ve got to kick off the show. So just rewind for us and give us some context: when did your love for fish eggs first take hold? Was this something from the Thai side of your family or the Emirati side?
Just give us that earliest memory.
Mo: Okay. So yes, I was born in Bangkok, so we were exposed to a lot of seafood, especially fish, when I was growing up. But that wasn’t really when I had my first experience with fish eggs. I’m sure I’ve eaten it then, but I think the fondest memory I have of fish eggs was actually in Dubai. I must’ve been like seven or eight.
I’d say in Thailand, it wasn’t fish eggs, it was fish eyes. So they would fry the fish and then I would sit there, and then there was like a fish eye. They’re super crispy and I’m like, “Hey, I can eat that?” And then they’re like, “Yeah, you can eat it. It’s actually really good.”
And then I put it in my mouth and eat it and chew. And it’s just like crisps, super crispy, full of flavor. I don’t think I’d do it now, but when I was a kid, I was obviously very curious. I really enjoyed that.
So jumping back to Dubai, the fun thing about Dubai was that, this is all a memory tied to Ghurair Center. Do you remember when Ghurair Center was, like, a small place?
Arva: Ghurair Center is just down the road from me. I have grown up in Ghurair Center.
Mo: There we go.
So I didn’t know what Ghurair Center was until my mom came home one day and she cooked something called shishamo for me. And shishamo is a Japanese smelt fish, so little salty, but it’s one of the most incredible things I’ve ever seen in my life and I eat it till today. It’s one of my favorite snacks.
So this smelt fish is literally, 90%, I would say, of this fish is eggs. And from the tail to the neck it’s just one huge sack of eggs. If you would open this fish up and remove the body, you would notice that the spine of this fish is extremely thin, its ribs are like hair.
So you can actually eat the whole fish without removing any part of it from head to tail, which is why I really liked this fish. You can just go ahead and eat the head and then start chewing on the rest of it. And it’s just mainly eggs, which is crazy. I found that fascinating.
Arva: Can I just say that there is a part of me, which is pretty much my entire body, that just shivers when I hear you describe this fish, which is literally head-to-tail full of eggs. Like just that…
Mo: …just eggs yet.
It’s like what’s it called, man? It’s like one of those stories you tell people, you know, in front of a campfire “…and then the body was full of eggs.”
I’m sure this is what fish tell each other at the bottom of the ocean. You know what I mean? It’s one of those Lovecraftian, sort of, tales they tell each other. “No really, like,” one of them telling the other “…full of eggs!”
Arva: But I wonder how they pick them up because I mean, obviously there must be male and female smelled and I don’t think they’re always, the female ones, are always going to be full of eggs. I wonder how they..?
Mo: Yeah I wonder too, but I eat more than I wonder. So I’m still not sure entirely how it happens, because the thought does come past me. I’m like, “Oh, damn. Oh, let’s just eat it. I ain’t got no time for this.”
So when I ate this fish, I saw “Mama, what’s that?” I bit the fish and it had all these little things inside.
She’s like, “That’s eggs.”
“Oh my god, Fish eggs?”
I’m like, “It doesn’t stop. It’s full mama. Look at mine. It’s full of egg.” And then she’s like, “Yeah, so is mine.” And it blew my mind.
So I’m like, “Mom, this is crazy. Where did you buy this from?”
She’s like “Ghurair Center”.
So the whole time I’m like, “Mom, can you please take me to Ghurair Center?”
Arva: That’s so funny. I had no idea. I’ve grown up, I still live in the same building, I didn’t know about this.
Mo: Yeah. There’s like an Asian shop in there, somewhere that sold it. And I remember when she took me, I was highly disappointed. Cause it was just a shop.
I had this whole like, view, this whole vision in my head “oh, this place is amazing.” And it was just like, you know, a bunch of like really serious people
Arva: It’s going to have these arches and fireworks.
Mo: Yeah. It’s just a bunch of freezers and fridges and these really serious people. And I’m like, “Oh alright, mom, gonna wait in the car.”
Arva: Wait, so what was it exactly like? What did it taste like?
Mo: Shishamo? I can’t describe, the texture is literally, it’s like eating bubbles.
Arva: That sounds like my kind of food.
Mo: Yeah, it’s like eating bubbles, dude. Like if you like fish, you’d love shishamo. The flavor is so nice and you can eat everything, bones, heads, tail, the whole thing. You don’t waste anything from the fish. It’s such a fantastic little fish.
Arva: Yeah I think it’s a good place to start if you’re not sure about whether you want to try this or not.
So, okay, your first experience was this smelt full of eggs.
Mo: That was my first memorable experience.
I’m sure I ate it before, but then yeah, shishamo was definitely a massive highlight for me. And yeah, definitely everyone should try that once upon a time.
It’s a small little fish about the size of your index, your middle finger, the small little fish that they fry or they grill. You can get it in most Japanese shops, just look in their menu, most of them actually offer it. Beautiful, beautiful snack, fish eggs galore.
Arva: So, the time I actually had these fish eggs was the Emirati way, and it’s called hubool. I’m curious whether that side of your family ever prepared this for you?
Mo: The Arabic version, I’ve eaten many times, I like it. It’s usually from a mullet, so the sack is quite big. But again, I think if I’m talking fish eggs, I think my favorite way to have fish eggs is definitely shishamo because you don’t really know the quality and the cook on those other eggs, which would kind of dictate how they taste and the texture.
But I find that the smelt is really hard to mess up. It’s extremely hard to mess up because all you do, and that’s why most of these restaurants they, usually these fish are sold frozen.
And even the way they’re packaged is pretty crazy. What they do is they take a straw, just like a straw and they put the fish, it goes through the gills. So the fish look like they’re on a flag. Yeah. There’s like five of them with this one straw
Arva: I’m getting traumatized just hearing this.
Mo: Yeah, I’m telling you, this is like horror stories to tell in the deep, “And then they put a straw through their gills. Eggs and straws and the gills.” Yeah, it’s really crazy. “And then they freeze them. And then they get deep-fried.”
Oh my goodness, it is like a nightmare isn’t it? But yeah, so that’s how it’s packaged, frozen, and most people just pull it out of the freezer, defrost it and fry it. It’s already salty, you don’t need any seasoning at all. It’s already salty the way they prepare it.
And then you just eat it, dude! It’s fantastic, nice and crispy. Unless you get it grilled and the skin’s obviously not crispy, but you got that nice smoky flavor on it and smell. It’s really great, it’s an amazing snack.
Arva: Alright, I’m a little bit more convinced. I’m not totally convinced, but I’m definitely a little bit more convinced.
Mo: I’m going to take you to eat shishamo with me.
Arva: Done. Because the first time I actually saw this was at the old fish and vegetable market in Deira. And if you went to the fish cleaning section, they would have trays of these sacks there, and people would say those are the fish eggs.
And I would get so confused because I’m like, “Well, fish roe is so tiny. What is that? They’re massive.” And I didn’t realize that it was actually a collection of the eggs and people were just buying them.
Mo: <laughs> Collection!
Arva: Yeah, collection of the eggs.
And I guess the fishmongers were making an extra buck on them because if you were lucky to clean a fish, which had this, you could sell that for an additional profit and then people would probably buy it and deep fry it. But I didn’t realize how people were cooking it, up until much later.
Alright, Deepika I want to move over to you and you are from Mangalore. So for folks who are not familiar with Mangalore, it’s a major coastal city in the Southern Indian state of Karnataka. And they’ve got a very distinctive cuisine that really emphasizes seafood because of their easy access to the Arabian Ocean [sic].
Now, Deepika when you saw our posts online about these fish eggs, and then you saw, possibly, Mo’s video being reposted, you immediately responded saying that this was something that you’d ask your mom to save for you when she was making curries. So I want to hear more. Is this a standard Mangalorian thing?
Deepika: No, it’s actually, to tell you the truth, if I said, “Oh, there’s fish egg in this,” then it’s no big deal. I mean, you know, it’s a very normal thing for people to have because they would buy the fish, clean it themselves and they would sometimes find these sometimes small, sometimes big sack of eggs. And either they put it into the curry or they leave it out.
But most of the time they do put it into the curries and it cooks in that spicy coconut gravy. I don’t know how much of that spice it absorbs, but it’s actually really nice. But again, it depends on the egg itself. It might taste a little bitter, sometimes it might not.
But my memories, the earliest is when I was younger and I was sitting on the floor and eating and I was like, “What is this?” And my mom’s like, “It’s a fish egg.” And I think at that age you are a little adventurous with food and I ate it and I liked it immediately. It was a little spongy, it was a little grainy, creamy, but it was nice. I think my kids wouldn’t go for it now at this age.
Arva: I was just going to say, “Can the two of you talk to my toddler, please?”
Deepika: I don’t know, but I get really excited when I find a fish egg inside. And then if I have to clean the fish myself and I find it, I get really excited about it.
Mo: Isn’t it like when you find it, isn’t it like, “I need to tell somebody!”
Mo: Like, “Oh my goodness, I can’t believe I found this.”
Arva: Tag Frying Pan Adventures every single time now that you find fish eggs.
Mo: It’s like a treasure hunt. It’s like you winning the lottery. You don’t have no idea if there’s a fish egg in there or not. And then as you’re cleaning, you’re like “Oh my goodness!”\
Arva: I’m going to give you guys my lottery ticket when I win it next time.
Alright. So we’ve now unleashed all this fish-egg nostalgia. So I want us to get into the actual technique of how to prepare the stuff, but first, let’s take a short break so we can hear about this other podcast that’s produced in Dubai that might just be up your listening alley.
And we are back to this fishy episode of Deep Fried, where we’re talking about fish roe. And again, I don’t just mean the eggs. We’re getting into the entire sack of eggs, which is clearly a coveted delicacy across many cultures in the broader region, and we’ve got two firm fish egg advocates with us.
We’ve got Mo Abedin and Deepika Shetty who are gonna share the lowdown on how to make this delicacy right.
So Mo, you just captured the whole process on video for us recently, so it’s super fresh in your mind. Walk us through what happens when you’re cleaning a fish and you’re like, boom, I just won the lottery and then what happens next?
Mo: Well, the funny thing is, I didn’t know I won the lottery until the fish was fried. It was much later down the line.
Mo: I didn’t cook the fish, my mom had cooked the fish. So maybe she knew it, I didn’t know it was in there. It was like an adventure on its own eating that fish and then all of a sudden I reach in to get the last chunk…
Yeah, exactly, Kinder surprise. I was like, “Oh my goodness, what is that?” At first, I was shocked because of the color of the eggs or the mackerel, like a small, slight tinge of orange. So I was just like, “Hold on a second. What is that?” because to me, it looked like, you know, when you cook prawns, you have a prawn-head butter, that’s the first thing that came to my mind.
Then I’m like, “No, hold on a second.” And then I kept, then that’s when I started taking the video.
Arva: Sorry Mo, can you just explain prawn-head butter?
Mo: I’m going to need a whole other podcast for that. But prawn head butter, basically, I think it’s the hippocampus of the head, right? Head butter is the head, okay, so you remove the head and there’s this beautiful orange stuff on the inside of the prawn’s head. And that is prawn head butter.
Arva: Oh, I love the term—head butter. We need a better term for fish egg sacks.
Mo: Yeah, we’ll just call it fish egg and remove the sack part, we’re good.
<laughs> You insist on going sack, sack, sack!
Arva: I think we need to aspire to something better, I do think we need to aim higher, but that’s fine where we’re going with fish eggs, as we said.
Alright, so yes…
Mo: Okay. Well, the other nice term for fish’s egg is also caviar, so that’s another story entirely though.
Arva: But this is not the same as caviar, because caviar is salted and that’s a whole different ball-game altogether, right? So…
Mo: Or roe?
Arva: Roe definitely has a little bit more of…
Mo: Which reminds me of that awesome roe that I buy from Ikea. If you guys like fish eggs, yo, you got to go to Ikea. There’s a beautiful blue tube with a blonde boy on it and you got to get that and you got to go home, and that’s cod roe. That’s mixed, it’s like a cream, it’s a sandwich spread. Dude, if you like fish eggs.
Arva: Oh Ikea! Who knew?
Mo: Yeah, ask any Scandinavian.
Arva: Wow! Just to be clear, Ikea is not sponsoring this episode, but I wish they were.
Mo: Yeah, dude.
Arva: That’s in the frozen section that tube?
Mo: Yeah, that tube is in the fridge, the chiller section. And then there’s this bread on the side, I can’t remember what it is but it’s, like, an oat bread, super crispy. So whenever I go there I—sometimes I only go there for that, by the way, I don’t end up buying furniture.
So, I get this tube and then I think it’s called Kalles? I can’t remember what it’s called, but you’ll see it. It’s blue and yellow. It’s got a blonde boy on it. It’s just a tube. Looks like a toothpaste tube. I get that, I get the bread and I’m out.
Arva: Alright, this I can get behind Mo, this I can get behind.
Mo: So, see, that’s the thing. If you can get behind this, the reason we love this is because we love fish eggs. So that’s why when I ate this, I was like, “Damn, man that’s so good” because I already have an existing love for fish eggs.
Now you were talking about prep and how to prepare these eggs. Many people, I think Deepika will probably have a much more elaborate way and much more creative way than I would, because, for me, the best way to eat fish eggs is just a little bit of salt, a little bit of pepper, deep fry, boom, sit that in some hot oil for a few minutes.
But guys, look, if you’re going to cook fish eggs at home—Deepika, I need you to back me up—you gotta be careful. That stuff can really turn on you real quick.
Deepika: Yeah, they spit-up.
Mo: Yeah, so it starts to spit out these eggs.
Arva: Ah the horror movie continues!
Mo: …but before it starts to spit out.
Hold on, hold on, I’m on a roll here. Hold on.
So, these sacks start to spit out, but before this spitting what happens is, if you don’t prepare the sack right—okay, don’t stop me at any point right now, even though all these innuendos are flying around—if you don’t cut the sack right and then you throw it into the oil, okay? In a couple of seconds, that sack is going to split open, and the moment it splits open it has almost an elastic effect.
So the moment it splits open, it starts to shrink. And when it starts to shrink that whole sack is going to fly up and land and all this oil is going to go everywhere. And then the moment that happens, all the smaller eggs are coming out and it’s like fireworks.
So that’s why, when you see people cooking fish eggs, you put the fish egg in, you close it, you walk away for a few minutes. Make sure it’s on medium, don’t put it on high, just medium and maybe a glass top. Cause you don’t want to pick that up and then you’re going to get a surprise, but you maybe want to have a glass cover.
And then the moment you say, “Hey, you know”—you’re that you’re going to hear that sack go snap and you know, okay, yeah, it’s open, it’s fine, it’s split, you know? And then you go inside and you flip it.
Arva: Wait, so it will split open, basically, is what you’re saying.
Mo: 100% dude, it’s a sack. It’s like an amniotic sack, it’s just going to go snap.
Arva: Oh dear God! Thank you for that
Mo: You’re welcome, absolutely.
So, it’s going to go. When you have the glass cover on it and you look, you can see the moment that it splits, it shrinks immediately like to the backside of the fish eggs, and then you want to flip it over.
So it is kind of a delicate and dangerous thing to cook if you don’t know what you’re doing. So be careful guys if you guys want to go right now to your local fishmonger or your Carrefour or Aswaaq. Aswaaq, by the way, still sells them that way. After they cleaned their fish, if they had eggs, they put it on the shelf.
So that’s the cooking technique that I do. Maybe you want to add a bit of garlic in the oil before you cook the fish eggs if you want, but I keep it very simple. And then again, even with the shishamo, it’s just literally shallow oil fry or on the grill, and that’s it. Really nice and simple.
You don’t need too much flavor, cause guess what man? Fish eggs have so much flavor. That’s why we love them, just on their own. Just a bit of salt, it’s amazing.
Another thing though, if you want to eat a lot of fish eggs—kind of got to watch out because they are cholesterol bombs, okay. You guys gotta watch out if you want just to sit at home and eat constantly.
But, yeah, so that’s the techniques well I would give you, the technique of cooking the eggs.
I’m sure Deepika is going to have some insane ones, I’ve got my notepad ready to hear her recipe.
Deepika: No, it’s not insane. So usually the fish that we would find the fish egg in is, I remembered when he said, mackerel I remembered, “Yes,” because we cook a lot of mackerel too. Sometimes it’s small, right? It’s not a very large ‘bag’ of fish eggs—can I add a new word?
Mo: <laughs>She’s trying to cover it up.
Arva: Very large ovary?
Mo: Yeah, the sack can be as big as my pinky up to the index finger, between there I would say, something like that.
Deepika: Yeah, but sometimes I’ve seen bigger ones in, if you’re familiar with black Pomfret?
Mo: Yeah, of course.
Deepika: Yeah, so they tend to be a little larger in size compared to the usual white pomfret. So sometimes they have a bigger one, which is very exciting, right, because you want to fry the entire thing. And I would, I usually, most of the time, I just put it into the curry, that’s how my mom used to do it. She never used to fry it as much. I did try to fry it and then I had to run away because it was an open pan and it was everywhere.
Mo: I’m telling you it’s like popcorn!
Deepika: The thing is, if you’re not careful with the casing, if it pops open just a little bit, even when you’re prepping it will happen faster. I think it pops open faster.
Maybe it also has moisture, which adds to that oil and then it’s just, you have to clean your gas late, I mean gas stove. So like Mo said, you have to be prepared. Keep a cover on or something, so it doesn’t spit-up on you.
But how I have always liked it is, and it doesn’t break this way, is when you add it to the fish curry.
If you’re familiar with Mangalorean cuisine, most of it is always red chili-based and with coconut milk.
Deepika: Yeah, so it kind of nicely, almost poaches in there and it stays intact. So that way it’s nicer and it’s mess-free to eat. And the mackerel curry is spicier, actually more spicy, than the regular fish that you see, it’s thicker and spicier.
So it kind of gives a nice sauce because the fish egg on its own is a little bland, not bland, but it doesn’t have that many levels of flavor in it. So it kind of adds a little more zing to it.
Arva: More oomph to it?
Deepika: Yeah, so it’s nice.
I think maybe because I tried it as a child the first time when I was younger, I don’t find it odd at all. So when I saw your post and that you just couldn’t wrap your head around it I was like, “Why?” You have to try it this way or you could just fry it.
And if we had to fry it, I would fry it with a Kondapur chili powder. Kondapur is the place, the town where I’m from. We make our own chili powder mix. So you use that, a little bit of vinegar, a little bit of salt.
Mo: What does that taste like? What does good Kondapur chili pepper taste like?
Deepika: So it’s just red chili, it’s a particular kind of red chili that grows in Karnataka. And we use predominantly that with some coriander seeds and cumin and fenugreek seeds, we powder it, and mostly it’s done in the mill, you don’t use the home powder mill for that because it heats it. You use the professional mill because we always do it in 10 kg loads.
Mo: That’s amazing.
Deepika: So we always have—yeah, my mom does that—so we always have that on hand at home. We use some of that, some vinegar, some fresh ginger, garlic, salt, and fry it in coconut oil. It’s just amazing. Try it, you have to try it
Arva: Yeah, just hearing you describe that, that actually sounds pretty good.
Now I have a question for you both because I’ve had hubool, which is the Emirati version of the snack. So they are just spiced and then deep-fried and the reason I didn’t take to it was because I found it very fishy. And when I sort of bit into it, it was like having cornmeal on the inside. It was very mealy, it was a little bit grainy actually.
Deepika: It is grainy, actually.
Arva: So that’s normal?
Mo: Yeah, but I also think she had a really bad one. I don’t think that sounds like the nice way. I think also, the species of the fish, I don’t think they would all taste the same or have nice eggs.
I prefer the mullet and I prefer the mackerel. I think those taste really nice. Cod too, fantastic. Shishamo as well, smelt, great. But outside of that, I don’t really try eggs from many other fish. Those are kind of like my go-to’s. I know what they taste like and they don’t all taste the same.
Arva: You know, I actually want to share three techniques that came up when people responded to all of the Instagram posts about these fish eggs. And the first one is from Sajitha Haider and she is from Kerala, and she said “There are also omelet versions, mashed up fish eggs with onion, green chili, rice flour, etc. pan-fried as a snack.
Deepika: That sounds good, actually.
Arva: Yeah, she was the only one who mentioned this omelet version, which I think is interesting. And then her sister Ninu, I’m guessing it’s her sister as they have the same last name said, “Oh man, we used to fry it up slathered in the same masala we do for fish-fry, Kerala style. So, chili powder, salt, pepper, fennel powder, coconut oil. Fried, nice and good. They’re the best.”
Mo: Wow, look at that, super creative, yum. That sounds so delicious.
Deepika: The fennel powder actually adds, if we fry oily fish, we usually tend to add the fennel.
Arva: Fennel, yes, fennel with fish is definitely a go.
And the third one, which was kind of similar to Ninu’s. So this is from Sana Mukadam. She said “Deep fry it in liquid gold”—which is ghee—“and marinated in chili powder, hand pounded, in ginger garlic paste, curry leaves, coriander, zeera (cumin) powder and mustard seeds, topped with fresh coriander and then served with white rice and rasam”—which is like this South Indian peppery tomato soup, which is so sinus-clearing, it’s delicious. “You can pair it with daal fry. It is yummy and it’s a staple in the rainy season for the coastal people,” so that was another one.
Mo: Man, that sounds so insanely delicious, but I’m also counting the milligrams of cholesterol that’s gonna go into my system. Deep frying the fish eggs in ghee is insanity, but I’m sure it tastes good.
Deepika: But it’s pounded, that’s what she says.
Mo: No, no. I think the spices are pounded.
Arva: I think she meant, yeah, I don’t think you pound the eggs.
Deepika: But I’m very scared to try this.
Mo: No, I would try it for sure, dude. I’m all up for that, man.
Deepika: Have like a shield?
Mo: Damn, I want to try fish eggs fried in ghee.
Deepika: No, deep-frying, I’m scared to deep fry. I’m just going to hold a shield up in front.
Mo: Just deposit it, bam, deep-fried, boom.
Arva: Yeah, and then when you lift up the lid, is it all like little pieces everywhere that you have to kind of collect, do a little scavenger hunt across the oil, and then collect all of them?
Mo: No, no.
Deepika: No, it stays intact. It stays in place.
Mo: It’s just that some of them go astray.
Deepika: Some of them, they do, it would be like looking at semolina in a pan if it’s opened up. Yeah?
Mo: Yes, yes.
Deepika: And like one or two would have stayed intact, but one would decide to pop and then it goes like everywhere. Yeah. That’s that’s the one you just watch out for.
Mo: Absolutely, that’s exactly, that’s a great way of putting it. It’s like, it’s exactly semolina. So yeah, you just find, you hear all the popping and stuff like that. And then you just find like a few, that decided to go explode from the sack and then that’s just, yeah.
Deepika: But I have seen it swelling up, the casing, it swells up like that. And I was like, “Oh my god! Somethings going to happen.”
Mo: Cover it all, yeah. Just cover it. Yes. So dangerous.
Deepika: But yeah.
Mo: It’s like a balloon that’s about to burst, you know, and then it’s covered in oil cause you’re frying it in oil. So imagine putting a balloon in your, in your oil and then just looking at it with no protection and going, “Hey, I wonder what’s going to happen when this thing completely inflates?”
Arva: Yeah, we have a saying in our culture, which basically translates to “Hey bull, come and hit me,” and that’s what that is.
Mo: Exactly, dude, that’s so crazy. Cause I remember even as a kid going, “What was it?” Cause the moment I used to know my mom and my mom would fry fish eggs. I’m like, “Oh, that’s a scary thing she’s cooking right now.” It sounds like a monster in a frying pan.
<Makes monster noises>
I don’t know if that’s what a monster sounds like in a frying pan.
Deepika: Yes, exactly.
Arva: Wow, I should have used those sound effects for this podcast.
Mo: Exactly, it’s kind of nasty.
Arva: Alright. What are your last words for the person who maybe is on the fence about trying them?
Mo: Can I start?
Arva: Yes Mo, the stage is yours.
Mo: Okay, great.
So guys, for fish eggs, try it once. Last night I went outside and I had this Latina friend of mine tell me, “Listen, the best way to have tacos is to have a traditional style one. And that’s a cow tongue taco.” Now, that’s not normally something I would order, right? And that sounds completely insane, I never eat cow tongue, ever.
But it was definitely one of the best tacos I’ve ever had. And I wouldn’t have known that if I didn’t take the leap of faith and eat it. So if you want to find something, if you’re adventurous, there’s a reason to be adventurous, because there are rewards to it.
The worst thing you can walk away from is, you will always walk away smarter knowing whether you like something or not. And if you do, boom! A completely new set of doors open for you and possibilities added to your culinary journey.
If you don’t, close all those doors and hide under your blanket, shiver for a few hours, you should be good.
At the end of the day, I want to bring something up that’s actually maybe going a bit beyond the fish eggs. All eggs have the potential to be delicious. For me, I love fish eggs, but there’s something I love more than fish eggs—and those are cuttlefish eggs, cuttlefish eggs are by far one of the most tastiest things I’ve ever had in my life.
And it’s one of the hardest things to find, for me, especially here. So we do make really good friends with the fishmongers because yeah its like, “Hey, what have you got? You’ve got fish eggs? No not again. Have you got cuttlefish eggs?” And he’s just like, “Man, what’s wrong with you guys, asking me for this stuff?”
Arva: Why are they different from the other ones?
Mo: So cuttlefish eggs don’t have that whole like caviar pieces inside, like the semolina style, in a sack. It’s solid, but the consistency is slightly gooey and slightly firm.
But if you broke a cuttlefish egg apart, it’s kind of flaky. Yeah, it’s white all the way through and it’s kind of flaky. But when you bite into it, it’s almost like cuttlefish on steroids. Yeah, it’s one of the most insane flavors that I cannot even begin to express what it tastes like. I think that that’s definitely something that people would enjoy eating.
It’s something extremely experimental. Thai people eat it everywhere across Thailand barbecued, we don’t fry that stuff. It’s only barbecued and we have it with nam chim, which is the Thai traditional seafood sauce, which is lime, garlic, chilies and coriander with fish sauce. Yup, absolutely delicious.
Arva: Oh, yeah, that’s the stuff you showed on your video as well. That stuff could make anything taste good.
Mo: Yeah, dude, if I get…
Arva: I think that’s the moral of the story, wise words shared by Mo Abedin.
Deepika what have you got for us?
Deepika: I don’t think I can put it better than what Mo said, but yeah, definitely give it a go. And if you don’t want to make it yourself, maybe get someone else to do it, maybe a friend who makes it?
Mo: That’s even wiser than me.
Arva: Outsourcing is the right way
Deepika: They would know what they’re doing, right? So.
Arva: Absolutely, there’s no shame.
Deepika: Yeah, of course not. I think that’s the only way to know if you’re going to like something or not.
Arva: Agree a hundred percent with you on that.
Well, both of you—Mo, Deepika—thank you so much for educating us, for convincing us that we should try fish egg sacks on Deep Fried.
I’m going to be honest, it’s still not super-high on my list. Maybe that’s stuff from Ikea is, but I’m probably not going to be running out right now, but I will give them a third chance whenever that opportunity arises before I pass my final judgment on them.
Hey guys, can you share how folks can find both of you on social? So Deepika?
Deepika: @shortgirlbakes on Instagram and Facebook.
Arva: And if he finds a fish egg sack, you can be guaranteed that’s where he’s going to be posting about it.
It was such fun chatting with the two of you.
And to our listeners, I hope you enjoyed this episode too. And if you did, please spread the love by rating and reviewing the show, wherever you get your podcasts and share it with your friends and family.
And if you’d like to tell us how you will, or won’t, run out to get your hands on deep-fried fish eggs sacks for dinner, well just head over to chat with us at Frying Pan Adventures on Instagram and Facebook and Frying Pan Tours on Twitter.
Thanks for joining us as we hatched-open the topic of fish egg sacks on the show and we’ll be back again next week with another delicious episode of Deep Fried.