Fish roe

A photo of Ikura nigiri
Salmon roe (Ikura)

Salmon roe (Ikura)

【Nigiri sushi: Gyoran】
What is Ikura?
Ikura is a Russian word meaning fish roe. When the skin of the sack that holds eggs becomes thinner, eggs are removed and dipped in sweet soy sauce. A fine flavor and umami extract spread and melt in the mouth. It is soaked in a marinade, so it is not necessary to dip it in soy sauce when eaten. Usually, it is eaten as Gunkan maki.

Some sushi restaurants do not use a soy sauce-based dipping sauce when making Ikura, but instead dip the Ikura in salt. It is not a matter of which is tastier, but rather of which goes better with the sushi rice. It may vary depending on whether you use it as an accompaniment to sake or as nigiri sushi.

Preparing salmon roe is not that difficult. First, place the raw row in brine water with about 3% salt at a temperature of approximately 50°C and the eggs will separate from the ovary membrane. Now take the end of the roe and shake it so that the little pieces of roe will fall out. The eggs turn a bit white at this point, but they will turn transparent later so don’t worry. The water will also be very cloudy. Rinse gently with water until all the excess membrane and strings fall away. Once the water runs clean, leave for around 30 minutes on a bamboo sieve, allowing it to dry naturally. The drying process is very important for the broth to permeate it properly. Next, immerse it in equal parts sake and soy sauce, and leave it in the fridge overnight so that it is infused with flavor. That’s all!

It is often thought that salmon eggs of salmon swimming upstream in the river where they are born are used, but in fact, eggs that are about to hatch have hard skin and are not suitable for consumption. Salmon eggs used for the Ikura topping are from salmon caught in stationary coastal nets.

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(Revision date: December 29, 2023)

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