Wild Recipes

Paddlefish Caviar and Cucumber Bites

Latest posts by Jeff Benda (see all)
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These Paddlefish Caviar and Cucumber Bites are easy to create, yet they make an amazingly fantastic hors d’oeuvre for your next get together with family and friends. I love making these for a party because I can whip it all up from start to finish in just 10 minutes. Store-bought crackers are topped with a dill cream cheese, cucumber slices, paddlefish caviar, and fresh dill. 

I’ve lived in North Dakota for 40 years, yet I’ve never taken advantage of the unique resource of paddlefish and the coveted caviar you can make with its roe. This year, I finally made the 7-hour drive from Fargo to the Missouri-Yellowstone Confluence area near Williston where hundreds of men and women line the river beginning May 1 to try and snag a paddlefish with an 8 or 10-foot snagging rod. 

It’s an extremely challenging experience where you fish from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. throwing cast after cast, yanking a 5-ounce lead weight and large treble hook through the water trying to snag a giant beast and drag it to shore. Sometimes weighing in at over 100 pounds, these long-billed prehistoric looking river monsters are one of the most exciting fish you can attempt to catch in freshwater here in the United States.

After spending hours casting and dragging in the hot sun, I finally felt a tug on my line. “Fish on!” I yelled in excitement as my hook dug deep into the fish. The battle was intense, but I was determined to reel it in. As I tried to keep the rod tip high, I could feel the fish fighting back with all its might. Try to imagine the hard charging tug of the biggest northern pike you’ve ever hooked into, then multiply that by a hundred!

I’m not a very strong and muscular guy, so it was with sheer determination that I finally managed to get the behemoth close to shore so my friend could grab it and pull it up onto the muddy bank. Despite feeling exhausted and sweaty, I couldn’t help but feel grateful for this incredible experience. As I sat next to the fish, I took a moment to reflect on the battle that had just taken place, feeling victorious and grateful for the opportunity to catch such a magnificent creature.

If you would like to try your hand at snagging a Paddlefish, and then making your own caviar with its eggs, you can find my step-by-step instructions here. It’s not that difficult at all. The salty, briny finished product is worth a little time and effort to add a little bit of splurge in your life.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Active time: 8 minutes

Servings: 12 bites

Interested in paddlefish? Read more about fishing for them here!

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Paddlefish Caviar and Cucumber Bites

Recipe by Jeff Benda
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Course: Wild Recipes


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  • 3 Tablespoons cream cheese, softened

  • 3 Tablespoons mayonnaise

  • 3 Tablespoons Mexican Crema (store bought or homemade)

  • 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh dill, plus more for garnish

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • Zest from one lemon

  • 1 small cucumber

  • 24 crackers

  • 1/4 cup Paddlefish Caviar


  • In a small bowl, combine the cream cheese, mayonnaise, Mexican Crema, 2 Tablespoons dill, salt, and lemon zest and mix well. Taste and adjust the seasoning if desired.
  • On a cutting board, cut the cucumber in half lengthwise, then thinly slice.
  • Top each cracker with 1 teaspoon of cream cheese mixture, then one or two cucumber slices, 1/2 teaspoon of caviar, and some dill. Serve immediately.

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Jeff Benda

Cooking gives me a creative outlet to transform wild game and bring it into traditional recipes from around the world to help expand people's perceptions. My goal is to celebrate local fish and wild game and provide achievable, bright recipes designed to build confidence for new cooks, and inspire everyone to elevate their cooking. I hope that by sharing and celebrating the food I create with the fish and wild game I harvest, I can highlight the great contribution so many hunters and anglers have made to conservation in this country, and reflect the freedom we have to enjoy America's great outdoors.

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