While caviar is typically eaten with some bread or crackers as a spread, you may have heard of fish eggs being served with sushi. In today’s article, we’re going to take a look at the best type of caviar that is used in sushi.
The best caviar for sushi is tobiko. Tobiko is made using the eggs of flying fish, meaning that it isn’t caviar by the strictest definition of the term, since caviar needs to be harvested from sturgeon.
That being said, there are many kinds of roe that are used when cooking sushi, so the above answer may not be the best kind of sushi for caviar in all cases. We’re going to take a more detailed look at all of the different kinds of fish eggs that are used in sushi, so bear with us. And don’t forget to check out my page to discover some must-try caviar products!
Best Caviar for Sushi
Just to get this out of the way early, you’ll rarely ever see genuine sturgeon caviar being used in sushi since Japanese cuisine doesn’t typically use sturgeon eggs. That being said, roe (fish eggs) are a popular staple in sushi, and they come from many different types of seafood.
Much like caviar, the roe that is used for sushi is harvested unfertilized.
Here are the most common types of roe that are used in sushi:
|Tobiko||Flying fish eggs|
|Masago||Capelin or smelt eggs|
|Uni||Sea urchin eggs|
Tobiko is the most common type of roe that is used in sushi, and if you’ve ever had roe with your sushi and you weren’t able to identify it, it was probably tobiko.
This is a relatively affordable kind of roe, especially when you compare it to more specialized types of caviar.
Tobiko is typically a deep orange, but it is sometimes combined with other ingredients to give it a more yellowish tinge.
Tobiko is often used in maki-style sushi, and it’s a key component of the California roll. Tobiko can also be served as nigiri sushi, though this method of serving it isn’t quite as popular.
Masago looks relatively similar to tobiko when it comes to color, but it is easily distinguished from the former due to its smaller size. Whereas tobiko ranges from 0.5 to 0.8 mm in diameter, masago tends to be below half a millimeter.
The color of masago isn’t the only similarity that it shares with tobiko. This kind of roe is typically used in nigiri, but you’ll find it featured in more popular maki rolls.
Another similarity between masago and tobiko is that both forms of roe can be infused with different flavors and colors, including yellow, red, and green.
Ikura differs from tobiko and masago in that it’s far larger and has a bit more of a delicate taste, making it more reminiscent of actual caviar than the other two.
Like tobiko, the natural color of ikura is orange, though it’s much more delicate than the other kinds of roe used in sushi because of its larger size. If you’re a little too rough with ikura, you run the risk of puncturing the eggs.
There are a few different ways to enjoy ikura, though sashimi is a popular serving method. Thanks to its similarities with caviar, ikura is often used as a cheaper substitute for it. In these cases, ikura is served with crackers, bread, and sour cream.
One crucial difference between ikura and caviar is that ikura can be frozen without affecting the flavor and texture too heavily. This is because it is often heavily salted when frozen.
Uni consists of sea urchin eggs, but the main difference is that it’s made up of the sea urchin’s whole reproductive system and not just the eggs. Uni is often served on its own, and it isn’t typically used in sushi rolls unless it’s a specialized recipe.
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Roe vs. Caviar
Roe is a term that is used to describe fish eggs. This means that caviar is roe, but not all roe is caviar.
Caviar is perhaps the best-known type of roe, as it has a reputation for being a delicacy that is almost exclusively enjoyed by the rich. However, there are many different types of caviar, and not all of them are astronomically expensive.
On the other hand, there are many different types of roe that are eaten around the world, including the ones served with sushi that we looked at earlier.
Caviar’s taste is often defined as more delicate and refined than other kinds of roe. Incidentally, this means that caviar typically has a less noticeable flavor than the alternatives, though the taste is more nuanced, and the texture is different.
Compared to roe, caviar’s texture tends to be crunchier and more buttery when you bite into the individual eggs. Since they’re both fish eggs, both roe and caviar can be consumed as part of a keto diet.
Where to Buy Caviar for Sushi
Unlike caviar, which often needs to be purchased online or at luxury food businesses, roe can be found for your homemade sushi with relative ease. If you have a Japanese fish market in your town or city, that should be your first stop, because they’re likely to have tobiko at the very least.
If you’re looking for raw ingredients and you have a local sushi restaurant, don’t be afraid to give them a call to see if they’d be willing to sell you some of their roe. Most sushi restaurants will be more than happy to sell ingredients to you, though they’ll be relatively pricey.
Keep in mind that this is location-dependent. If you live in a small town, you may have to settle for purchasing pasteurized roe over the internet. The pasteurization process helps ensure that the roe retains its freshness when it is not refrigerated, and this helps ensure that you won’t get sick due to bad caviar.