What Does Tobiko Taste Like

What Does Tobiko Taste Like? : A Guide to This Popular Sushi Ingredient!

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If you're a fan of sushi, you are definitely familiar with those tiny, orange balls that go on top. Well, those tiny orange balls actually have a name. They are called Tobiko.

What Is Tobiko?

What Is Tobiko?

Tobiko is Japanese for flying fish roe. It is one of the most common ingredients in Japanese cuisine. Tobiko is mainly used for creating different types of sushi. It is usually used as a garnish on the outside of many maki rolls, nigiri, and sashimi.

Some may even sprinkle tobiko on their ramen. Many people also enjoy eating tobiko with biscuits or toast as an appetizer.

Where Does Tobiko Come From?

Tobiko eggs are harvested from flying fish that are usually found in tropical and temperate climates. They usually grow up to 18 inches in length and begin spawning during late spring or early summer. The females lay their eggs in large batches.

Each batch typically includes around two hundred to four thousand eggs. Before these eggs are fertilized by male flying fish, they are harvested by producers for consumption.

What Does Tobiko Look Like?

What Does Tobiko Look Like?

Tobiko is one of the three fish eggs that chefs use in sushi dishes. The others are Masago, which is the roe of capelin, and Ikura, which is the roe of salmon.

A single tobiko egg is quite small. The shape is similar to a pearl. Each egg has a diameter ranging from 0.5mm to 0.8mm, which makes tobiko larger than Masago but smaller than Ikura.

What Does Tobiko Look Like?

Tobiko naturally has a bright, vibrant orange hue. However, you may come across tobiko that is black, orange, or even green. Sushi chefs may dye the fish eggs to make them more aesthetically pleasing.

Some may use squid ink to make black tobiko, some may use beetroot juice or chili peppers to make red tobiko and some may use wasabi to make green tobiko. You may also come across yellow tobiko which is made using yuzu, a citrusy Asian fruit.

What Does Tobiko Taste Like?

The taste of tobiko varies depending on the color. If you are having black tobiko, you might get a subtle hint of a fishy flavor. If you are having red tobiko that was soaked in beetroot juice, you will get a more sweet note.

But if you are having red tobiko that was made using chili peppers, it will definitely produce a more spicy, peppery flavor. Green tobiko also has a spicy wasabi note. On the other hand, yellow tobiko tends to have a more citrusy, sour note. 

Whatever the color of the tobiko, one thing that is common for all is that all of them have a salty flavor. This is because once tobiko is harvested, the eggs are preserved in salt for future use.

This explains the briny, salty note. Moreover, tobiko also has a subtle fishy flavor and it is kind of sweet as well. The texture is slightly crunchy and chewy.

Are Tobiko Eggs Healthy? 

What’s great about these tobiko fish eggs is that they are highly nutritious. They are a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids as well as phospholipid fats. Moreover, tobiko is naturally free of gluten and very low in calories.

However, the downside is that tobiko has a high sodium content and contains a high level of cholesterol as well.

So, it might be wise to refrain from eating tobiko in large quantities on a daily basis, especially if you have heart disease. 

While there are many dishes that use cooked tobiko, a majority of chefs almost always use raw tobiko to embellish the sushis. You won’t get sick if you consume raw tobiko since the fish eggs are always cured before serving.

Tips For Making Tobiko Sushi At Home

Tips For Making Tobiko Sushi At Home

If you are making tobiko sushi rolls at home, here are a few tips you might want to follow:

  • When you first open the jar of store-bought tobiko eggs, you should always check for impurities. Even if the fish eggs look clean, you should rinse them well before serving. After rinsing, strain off the water and put the eggs in a bowl. Although this step is optional, you may want to cover the bowl with plastic wrap and then, place the bowl in the refrigerator for a few hours before putting the tobiko on top of the sushi. This helps the tobiko retain its crunchy texture.   

  • If you have leftover tobiko, you can put them in the freezer for safe storage. You can freeze tobiko for up to six months. However, once the fish eggs are thawed, it is best to consume them within 3 or 4 days.

  • You can use tobiko for making food, other than sushis. You can use it as a filling for crab cakes, you can pair it with many seafood dishes, or make a creamy sauce with the tobiko eggs. Some may even make an omelet with the fish roe.

Final Thoughts

Final Thoughts

It is no doubt that tobiko is a trademark ingredient in Japanese cuisine. Tobiko forms the centerpiece of many different types of sushis.

These fish eggs can also be used to embellish other food such as salads, seafood ramen, sandwiches, crackers, and lots more!

What’s great about tobiko is that it can be served both raw and cooked so you can sprinkle a few on top of the food straight out of the jar. Plus, the bright orange color makes it look very appealing. The pop of color helps to make your dish stand out from the rest. 

Check out this video on how to make delicious California rolls with tobiko!

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Bella Howard

Bella Howard is a contributing writer and foodie with a particular love of Mexican, Chinese and Euro...

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