12 February, 2008

Fishy Delights 9: Kalles Smoked Roe Spread

The Swedish Food Market at IKEA always has a few surprises lurking within. On a recent trip, I picked up two varieties of Kalles Kaviar (a smoked fish roe spread.) In Sweden, it's one of the most popular snacks/sandwich spreads on the market and it's available straight, with cream cheese, with dill, and a "light" version. IKEA carried English-language-labeled product in two of the flavors: straight Creamed Smoked Roe, and Striped (cream cheese accompanies the roe but is not blended with it, so the product comes from the tube in an attractive pink-and-white-striped extrusion.) I sampled each variety on plain saltine crackers.

Creamed Smoked Roe - soft pinky brown, flecked with little bits of herbs and seasoning. Aggressively fishy flavor, just as you'd expect from a poduct made with roe, but with a richer tone I couldn't quite identify and very sweet. Checking the label, I found that tomatoes and sugar are both important ingredients. Not bad as a snack spread, but the sweetness kind of put me off a little. I think this would be great served on toasted rye rounds with sliced stuffed Manzanilla olives and egg salad, or as a stuffing for salty green olives where the tart/bitter flavors of the olive could balance the sweetness in the spread.

Striped Smoked Roe - Packed with soft cream cheese alongside the roe, this spread is much lighter than the straight roe, with a distinctive salmony-orange color and a milder, more delicate taste. The gentler flavor makes it more suitable for a general snack spread or sandwich filler. Still, the smoked roe itself is heavily laced with tomato and sugar, and I found it to be just as disconcertingly sweet as the other.

Overall, I don't regret buying either of the Kalles spreads, but I don't anticipate them becoming the next breakout product that joins the mainstream American market.

Some trivia about the spread:
  • In Sweden, the product is known as Kalles Kaviar.
  • It's made by Abba Seafood AB, which was originally established in 1838. The famous Swedish pop band requested (and was granted) permission from the company to share the name in 1974.
  • Kalle is the name of the blonde boy depicted on the tubes. He is the son of the managing director of the company in 1954, the year Kalles Kaviar was first introduced.


carnley said...

Awesome. I just purchased the dill flavored one on a whim today. It was a toss-up between that and the striped one...or some pickled herring...hahah..

Molly said...

Yours is the only English-language blog I can find directly referencing the "creamed smoked roe" caviar variety.

I am currently living in Norway, where there are several varieties of said foodstuff, and I prefer Mills. Plain kind. It is a pale orange, slightly sweet, very salty, and savory. I actually think it is delicious.

Most Norwegian eat this on a slice of brown bread with sliced hard-boiled egg on top. I think it is good on break or crispbread with a tiny bit of mayo, with cucumber slices on top, variations on which I have also seen others do.

Yeah, the American market is certainly not ready for it. But this stuff is super tasty. Certainly better than the "American" cheese of my homeland.

Anonymous said...

Please don't eat it on a cracker... thats just too much flavor for one person to handle, even a seasoned caviar eater like myself.

Do it like Molly is saying, have it on a slice of brown bread. If that taste is too much, then add some egg.

I think the original is better than the cheese spread thing... not as sweet.

Gisela said...

I have bought the roe in Carlsberg/CA and I wish I would have bought more. I LOVE IT ! Especially on dark toasted buttered bread. I live on Vancouver Island and I can't get it nowhere.....