Bering Sea gold (of a different variety) comes from the belly of an Alaskan Pollock! For more than 60 years now, Pollock roe has been considered a delicacy in numerous eastern Asian cultures and has been an area of intense focus for UniSea for the better part of three decades and helps determine a successful winter season as much as any meat product. Size, quality, and overall value play a significant role in where and when our fleet of vessels goes fishing from January through April – spawning season for an Alaskan Pollock.
Comparatively, the extraction and collection process is relatively straightforward – after the viscera is removed from the Pollock belly, the roe is separated from all other material and corralled from all processing lines to a centralized evaluation station. Roe represents less than 7% of the total products harnessed from Pollock processing, but we dedicate nearly 20% of all production labor to these cash cow corpuscles. Our well-trained crews handle and evaluate every single skein, carefully separating them into one of 22 different grades depending on size, shape, color and several other critical factors.
Proper grading and packing is not likely more important to any other product group than it is for roe, as no other product group is sold quite like roe. The majority of sales are generated from a series of auctions held in the Seattle area where buyers from around the world converge upon Western Washington to place bids on product displayed by both onshore and offshore processors alike. Roe in the consumer market can be used in a wide variety of dishes, whether it’s enjoyed whole with a glass of Sake, an additive for pasta or salad entrees, or wrapped in rice and seaweed as a type of Onigiri. When it comes to Mentaiko, seasoning makes all the difference.