What is Masago and How Do You Make It

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Allow us to ask you a question. Do you like eggs? Tasty right? Well, how’s about fish eggs? Ok, so it might not be to everyone’s taste, but fish eggs are actually a delicacy. They can add texture and lots of flavor to many dishes, including sushi. Today we are talking Masago. What is Masago? You’ll find these bright orange pearls of taste used predominantly in Japanese cooking. Today we’ll look at what they are, where they come from, what they taste like, and how you can use them.

masago

What is Masago? | Quick Answer

Masago is the name given to the roe (a posh name for fish eggs) of the Capelin. This is an edible fish found in various oceans around the world. It is normally a dull yellow in color with a mild fish flavor. It is used in various dishes to add texture. The eggs pop as you eat them!

Is Masago a Caviar?

While Masago is a type of fish egg or roe, it is not strictly Caviar. This is because it comes from a different species of fish. Think of it like wine. Both champagne and prosecco are made with grapes, but they have different names. The same can be said of Masago.

Traditionally ‘Caviar’ is the roe of the sturgeon fish. It is very, very expensive. You’ll find that Caviar can cost anything up to $100 for a single ounce! When you consider that the Sturgeon has been put on the endangered list, the cost is expected to rise even higher.

Masago, on the other hand, is significantly cheaper. If you are looking for a cheaper alternative to Caviar, then Masago could be it. 

Where Does Masago Come from?

Masago is the roe of the Capelin fish. This is found predominantly in cold water seas such as the North Atlantic. The fish are related to the Herring and have similar behaviors and migratory patterns. Capelin tend to be slightly larger than Herring and can grow up to 20cm long. 

The eggs and row are relatively easy to collect as the fish spawn in vast numbers. Their preferred habitat for spawning is shallow sandy beaches.

What Does Masago Look Like?

what does masago look like

Masago is normally a pale yellow color when sourced naturally. Commercial producers of Masago often soak the fish roe in orange food dye to make it brighter and more vivid in color to appeal to diners.

Masago is also slightly smaller than traditional forms of edible roe such as Tobiko and Ikura. 

If you are a fan of sushi, there is a good chance that you have already seen Masago. It appears as a bright orange coating on the outside of sushi rolls. 

What Does Masago Taste Like?

Masago has a relatively mild flavor. It doesn’t taste quite as strong as Caviar. It is certainly less fishy.

Due to its small size, Masago has a slightly smoother mouthfeel than larger fish roe’s. It generally tastes a little salty with hints of the sea. It has a mild fish taste that is similar to that of oily fish like mackerel or Herring. 

Masago doesn’t create the popping sensation in your mouth to the same extent as larger fish eggs. It can occasionally taste a little gritty. 

How do you Use Masago?

There are several ways to use Masago. Let us look at some of the ways it is traditionally used: –

1. Sushi Rolls Exterior Coating

As we said above, the place you’ll primarily sea Masago used is in sushi rolls. It tends to be used in Maki rolls. These rolls aren’t covered in a layer of crisp seaweed. The sticky white rice makes the perfect surface to nestle these glowing, shiny eggs. California rolls often feature Masago heavily.

masago sushi roll

2. Inside Sushi Rolls

Masago is also used on the interior of sushi rolls. As we said, it has a delicate flavor that perfectly that can go a long way in elevating the other fillings in sushi. It is often dusted as a thin strip running through the center of a roll

3. As a Sauce

The Japanese sometimes use Masago as an element in sauce. Consider it a sort of Asian Carbonara, served with noodles instead of spaghetti. Masago is combined with cream to create a loose seafood flavored sauce.

4. In Wasabi

It is possible to buy green wasabi paste that has been combined with Masago. The wasabi powder is absorbed by the eggs. This gives them a really vibrant green color that is full of the flavors of Masago and wasabi!

5. Plate Decorations

Because of its vivid color, you’ll often see Masago used as a way to delicately enliven a plate. It is normally served as a dusting to fish and seafood dishes. 

6. Cracker Relishes and Pastes

You can actually eat Masago in the same way as you would Caviar. Because it is cheaper, you can serve it alongside salted crackers as part of a buffet-style meal. 

Masago Sushi Recipe

0 from 0 votes
Recipe by Laura Ritterman Course: DinnerCuisine: JapaneseDifficulty: Easy
Servings

24

servings
Prep time

10

minutes
Cooking time

50

minutes
Calories

46

kcal

Making this masago sushi recipe is fun and easy at the same time. In under 60 minutes you can be enjoying the popping flavors that come with this recipe.

Ingredients

  • For Sushi Rice
  • 1 cup sushi rice short grain sushi rice

  • 1 cup water

  • 1 ½ tablespoons optional sushi vinegar

  • For Masago Sushi
  • 4 oz imitation crab

  • 1 avocados cut thin slices

  • 2 sheets nori seaweed

  • 1 tablespoon masago

Directions

  • To make sushi rice, rinse the rice and combine it with water in a rice cooker. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and leave it aside to cool slightly. Stir in the sushi vinegar (or a mixture of rice vinegar, sugar, and salt) while it’s still hot.
  • To make the roll, begin by placing a piece of plastic wrap on top of the bamboo mat (this will prevent rice from sticking to the bamboo).
  • Using a pair of scissors, cut the nori sheets in half and separate them.
  • Half of the nori sheet should be placed on top of the bamboo.
  • Spread roughly 3/4 cup of cooked rice evenly over nori. Gently press it down with your hands. (To avoid stickiness, soak your hands in vinegar water.)
  • Flip it so that your rice is facing down and nori facing up.
  • On top of the nori, layer imitation crab and avocado slices.
  • Lift the edge of the bamboo mat up and over the filling with your thumbs.
  • To tighten the bamboo mat, roll it away from you and apply some pressure. Continue to roll until the ends touch.
  • Cut each roll into 8 even pieces after transferring it to a cutting board.
  • Add a masago topping to each sushi piece: Spread masago on top of each piece of sushi. You can spread it out evenly with your hands.
  • Serve and enjoy!

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How do You Store Masago?

Masago keeps remarkably well in the freezer. Provided it is stored correctly (in a rigid container to prevent the eggs from being damaged), it can last for up to half a year! If it has been defrosted, it must be eaten within 4 or so days and kept cool in the fridge.

Where Can I Buy Masago?

Surprisingly there are a lot of places where you’ll be able to find Masago. Your first port of call should be an Asian supermarket. You’ll often find it in high-end deli-style shops. Some stores, such as wholefoods, occasionally stock Masago. If you’re looking for ideas on what to serve with sushi, we can help out with that too.

Conclusion

Hopefully, you’ll be able to answer the question, what is Masago? It’s a tiny fish egg with a lot of color and flavor. While it is used in Asian cooking, its flavors are mild enough to use in various seafood dishes, and it is a great way to brighten up a plate. How would you use Masago? Let us know in the comments below! 

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