I desperately wanted to do this post on New Year’s Eve because – let’s face it – if you eat caviar at all, you eat it once a year and it’s on New Year’s Eve. Unfortunately, the buckwheat flour necessary to make the blini proved to be quite elusive. After trips to three different grocery stores, I finally made the brief but annoying drive to Whole Foods and picked some up there. When it came to buying caviar, I didn’t want to spend hundreds of dollars. Okay, I didn’t even want to spend ten dollars. I bought this $6 capelin caviar from World Market, not having any idea what capelin even was.
According to Wikipedia, capelin is “a small forage fish of the smelt family found in the Atlantic and Arctic oceans.” I was half-expecting it to say “the crappiest, cheapest kind of fish in existence. Never eat capelin caviar,” but I guess I lucked out. It even referred to capelin caviar as a “high value product.” Ooh la la!
Making the blini was easy but fairly time-consuming, as blini are actually yeasted pancakes. This means the batter needs to sit for a while before you can actually make the pancakes. I used this recipe from Chef in You to make them. You start by mixing up the batter, which consists of flour, salt, milk, yeast, and egg yolk, then you cover it with a washcloth and let it sit for 30-50 minutes. After that, you beat some egg whites until they’re fluffy and fold them into the batter. Then you’re good to go! You make them just like you would silver dollar pancakes.
The result is a soft, fluffy, and flavorful pancake that has a bit of nutty flavor from the buckwheat flour. I started with about twelve of them, but I ended up having to make more because I kept popping them into my mouth during the cooking process. They were amazingly good and the perfect size for snacking.
The caviar itself was nothing special, really. It was salty and fishy and that’s about it. I know lots of people who are really grossed-out by the stuff due to its briny flavor and strange texture, but I didn’t really feel strongly either way about it. I could take it or leave it.
After these pictures were taken, I ate every last blini…after first scraping off the caviar and putting it back into the jar. I then took the remaining blini batter, made normal-sized pancakes with it, and ate them for lunch. I think my actions speak for themselves.