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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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!