Komochi Konbu is the Japanese name for herring eggs (“kazunoko”) that have been laid on blades of giant kelp. This exotic ingredient is traditionally enjoyed at New Years and is considered a symbol of good luck. The reason the roe is such a delicacy in Japan is not the flavor; rather it's the popping sound the roe makes when it is eaten. While this ingredient is essentially unknown in the U.S., almost the entire harvest comes from the West Coast of North American, from San Francisco to Sitka, Alaska.
After a prodigious amount of searching, I found an exporter willing to sell a few pounds of the highest grade roe available. I am pairing it with two other roes, smoked steelhead roe and California Paddlefish in a dish that represents “caviar” either indigenous to California or produced in California. Each preparation is unique, playing off of the individual characteristics of each roe. The crisp and mildly astringent herring eggs are mellowed by creamy avocado, dashi and fresh lime, the clean flavor of the paddle fish is accentuated by meyer lemon and cucumber and the decadent steelhead roe is offset by mango and kaffir lime.
I think “Roe, Roe, Roe” is the perfect first course for my new Taste of Big Sur menu that will be debuting the second week of November!