You probably have seen this bright and colorful roe on top of your sushi rolls and loved the crunchy, sweet-salty flavor of Masago, the eggs of the Capelin, popularly used in Japanese cuisine.
Masago is the roe (eggs) of the Capelin or smelt fish, a member of the salmon family. This fish produces tiny, vivid orange eggs that are slightly sweet. Preserved in salt, they have a wonderful crunchy texture that is a joy to bite into, and a very mild flavor that doesn’t overpower other ingredients but rather is a very accommodating partner. Served in a cluster of small eggs on top of nigiri and other rolls, or even topping maki cones, they add great color and texture to sushi, and other Japanese dishes.
Sometimes confused for Tobikko, the eggs from the flying fish, you’ll find masago roe is smaller and with a smoother texture, but they can perfectly be used interchangeably for most garnishing purposes. Tobiko is also sometimes found dyed into different colors, whereas Masago is typically served in its original orange hue.
Use masago to garnish sushi rolls, but also to decorate and add a pleasant crunch and bright color to sushi and rice bowls, poke bowls, cold soups and even pasta dishes. Keep in mind that these won’t add a lot of flavor, but rather are a fun, mild garnish.