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Read more about Shellfish & Roe

Lumpfish roe

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Lumpfish roe adds something special to your cooking with an intense taste of umami and a unique set of flavours from the Northern seas

Lumpfish roe comes from the lumpfish (Cyclopterus lumpus) and is referred to as “the caviar of the north”. With a small pop, each little pearl bursts in the mouth and releases a fresh, salty flavour with a touch of sweetness.

Lumpfish roe products

Royal Greenland's lumpfish roe comes as a variety of products. As a unique feature, Royal Greenland controls the entire process from sea to table, ensuring products of the highest quality, with full traceability. The lumpfish roe is available as frozen, natural roe, where the roe has only been cleaned and packed. It is also available in a variety of colours, including natural and AZO-free colours, or with flavours such as wasabi, which is very popular in Asia.

Lumpfish in the sea

The lumpfish is easily recognisable by its short, round body, and short fins, which make it a rather weak swimmer. To make up for its lack of swimming ability, the lumpfish has a round sucker disk on the underside of the body, so that it can attach to large rocks and seaweed.

The lumpfish is found in the North Atlantic, from Canada to the west to Norway to the east. It lives both close to the shore and further out in the sea, at depths from 50 to 300 metres on the rocky seabed. The female has blue and green colours and, with a length of up to 50 centimetres and a weight of 5 kg, is significantly larger than the male. The male measures around 35 cm, weighs 2 kg, and has red and brown colours. The lumpfish feeds significantly more during the winter and some of its favourite prey includes small crustaceans, worms and small fish.

The Lumpfish spawns during the spring, when it swims into shallow waters. Sexual maturity is connected to size, rather than age, and the female is typically mature at a length of around 38 centimetres, where the male is mature at around 28 centimetres. The female carries the roe, which can be up to 25 % of her entire weight, during the spawning season. The female spawns up to 200,000 eggs at a time for a period of eight to 14 days. The male fertilises the eggs and guards them until they hatch. After spawning, the lumpfish returns to deeper waters.

In 2015, lumpfish fisheries in Western Greenland were certified as sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council.

Read more about MSC certification here

Fishery

The lumpfish is only fished inshore and mainly by local fishermen. The preferred catching method is gill nets, which consist of a long and upright wall of netting that is lowered onto the seabed. The lumpfish becomes entangled in the netting, which due to the mesh size is targeted specifically at the desired species. Each fisherman controls approximately ten to 15 nets that they supervise on a daily basis, to make sure the nets are set properly and emptied. When the gill nets are emptied, the catch is hauled on board and the lumpfish roe is removed carefully from the gutted fish and put into large barrels. The lumpfish is cleaned and stored on ice.

The lumpfish roe is delivered to Royal Greenland's factories every day, where each catch is recorded in the SAP system in order to track and save each step of the ongoing process.

Processing

Both lumpfish and lumpfish roe are landed at our Greenlandic factories. The lumpfish are placed in a vertical freezer, where the fish is frozen into blocks. The blocks are sent directly to the markets, for instance in Asia, where the meat of the lumpfish is appreciated and considered a delicacy.

The lumpfish roe is separated carefully from its membrane in an automated process. Careful cleaning in three steps ensures that all impurities are removed. After cleaning, the roe is dried before being either salted and sold as natural roe, or brined in a strong salt brine and used in further processing. During processing, a number of quality checks are performed, and samples of each batch are stored during the product’s entire shelf-life, in order to perform continuous quality checks and testing. From our Greenlandic factories the roe is either sold directly to customers or sent to Germany for further processing.

In Germany, the roe is quality graded before entering the production line, where the roe is carefully cleaned to lower the salt level, and then dried in a large tumbler. The roe is dyed in the tumbler, and other ingredients are added, according to the recipe, before another quality control. After the roe has been dyed, it is filled in small glass or plastic containers, pasteurised and vacuum sealed, to ensure ultimate food safety. 

Before exiting the production line, the roe is processed through a metal detector and X-ray, to eliminate any risk of glass or metal splinters.

Route to market

From production in Greenland, consumer-ready packs of natural, frozen roe are sent to customers. In Germany, the products are mainly sent to food service customers or directly to retailers.
Lumpfish roe is popular in Europe, and especially in Scandinavia, where the roe serves as an alternative to caviar.

Lumpfish roe in the kitchen

The lumpfish roe's crisp little pearls have a salty, yet sweet, taste with a strong umami flavour. The roe has a natural high content of omega-3 fatty acids and is also a great source of iodine, potassium and selenium. The lumpfish roe from Royal Greenland has a natural, dusty pink colour, which is mainly due to the lumpfish's feed.

The lumpfish roe is well-accompanied by sour, creamy or crisp flavours. The roe is a fine garnish for a delicate entrée, or as an addition to a main course with fish or shellfish. It can also be enjoyed on its own in a classic appetiser such as blinis with roe, crème fraîche and finely chopped red onion.

See also

Read more about Cold-water prawns
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