Trust the Japanese to give such a beautiful name to a prized delicacy.
Yes, we are talking about tobiko.
A popular ingredient in Japanese cuisine, it’s not only tasty and unique but also delightful to look at.
It’s used in dishes like sushi rolls and sashimi and appetizers, salads, dips, and sauces, and believe us; each one is a mouth-watering delicacy.
Tobiko is fish eggs from one particular fish, which we will elaborately discuss in the next section.
It’s beautiful, and it has a lovely name.
But what does tobiko taste like? Does it taste like other fish roe such as caviar, ikura, or masago, or is it different? Read on below to learn more about it.
What is Tobiko?
The red-orange pearl-like eggs of flying fish are called tobiko in Japanese.
As mentioned earlier, it’s a popular item in Japanese cuisine and is primarily used in sushi and sashimi and added to many other dishes.
Compared to other fish roe, tobiko is larger than masago (capelin roe) but tinier than ikura (salmon roe).
Its natural hue is red-orange, but it can transform to other shades when added with other ingredients.
For example, it turns green and spicy when paired with wasabi or pale-orange or yellow when added to yuzu (a citrus fruit).
It turns black when you add squid ink or deep red when adding beetroot.
Because of its ability to absorb colors without losing shape, you can have a plate of tobiko with several colors.
The variety, therefore, makes a dish even more appealing and unique.
What Does Tobiko Taste Like?
Tobiko is popular not just for its beauty but also because it’s delicious.
Like its capability to take in various colors and remain in the same shape, it’s also versatile.
Chefs and cooking enthusiasts can therefore work with tobiko in a lot of ways.
Earlier, only Japanese cuisine used tobiko, but it’s now gaining popularity in many places, especially with people who love to taste various seafood.
Tobiko is often substituted with masago if the former is unavailable as they have a similar appearance.
However, an expert in roe can easily make out the difference.
While they look similar, the taste and flavor differ as masago has a subtle taste with a grainier texture.
Tobiko might taste more like ikura even though their sizes vary significantly.
It is also called flying fish roe or fish roe sometimes.
However, it’s more popularly known by its Japanese name.
Tobiko has a sweeter flavor than other kinds of roe.
Salmon roe also tastes sweet but less than tobiko.
The flying fish roe has a crunchy texture with a satisfying pop.
Besides being sweet and salty, it has a slightly citrusy flavor like orange zest.
Once harvested, the tobiko producers cure the roe with salt for preservation.
So, the final product, when you eat it, has a sweet and salty flavor.
Tobiko is also more robust than other fish eggs because it can hold its shape for a long time.
The pearly eggs make a dish even more appetizing because they don’t break.
- Nutritional Value of Tobiko.
Like most other seafood, tobiko is also nutritious, and a seasoned portion contains 20 calories per one serving of 15g.
It also has protein, carbs, sodium, and 0 fat.
It’s rich in omega-3 fatty acids and other nutrients and can reduce inflammation and boost liver and brain functions.
But tobiko is high in cholesterol, so you have to consume it moderately for good health.
How to Make and Serve Tobiko?
Fish roe is delicious whether cured, raw, or cooked, and it isn’t any different with tobiko.
Since it’s versatile and sturdy, there are many ways to serve it.
In Japanese cuisine, tobiko typically makes its place as a topping in many dishes.
Tobiko nigiri is one of the delicacies where you can use the roe.
The dish comprises vinegared sushi rice in the shape of a mound topped with wasabi and raw fish.
Simply add a spoonful on top to make it a delicious dish.
Sushi rolls and sashimi are other delicacies where you can use tobiko.
Nowadays, it’s also used in California rolls, a type of sushi.
Add it as a garnish in various rice and seafood dishes.
Tobiko can also serve as yummy appetizers on toast and plain crackers.
Give a briny flavor to your dressings, soups, and sauces by adding tobiko.
You can also cook tobiko in several ways.
Whether it’s sauteing it in a pan, poaching it, or frying the roe with breadcrumbs, it will taste amazing.
If it’s already cured, don’t add salt in the beginning, or it will become too salty.
If you love seafood, tobiko is something to try at least once in your life.
The delicate, sweet, and salty pearly eggs burst in your mouth, giving you a unique experience.
The roe is available in many places these days so you can find a good brand on the market.
Even if you have never used it before, it doesn’t matter as you can find many recipes and video tutorials.
Make a different item each time and enjoy the lovely fish roe in various dishes.