What are those tiny, crunchy, bright orange eggs on your sushi? They’re called Masago. It’s the roe, or eggs, from a small fish called the Capelin.
These tiny eggs are often used as a garnish in Japanese cuisine, particularly in sushi, and they add a delightful pop of color and texture to any dish they grace.
They’re mildly sweet and slightly salty, with a subtle hint of the sea. There’s also a faint bitterness that balances out the sweetness and a citrus-like undertone that gives it a refreshing edge.
But Masago isn’t just about taste. It’s also about the experience. When you bite into these tiny eggs, they burst in your mouth, releasing their flavor in a delightful little pop.
What Does Masago Taste Like?
Let’s get into the nitty-gritty of what Masago really tastes like.
Picture this: you’re standing by the ocean, the salty sea breeze tickling your nose. That’s the first hint of what Masago brings a gentle whisper of the ocean to the table. It’s a slightly salty flavor reminiscent of fresh sea air, but there’s more to it than saltiness.
Masago has a mild sweetness that complements its salty side. It’s not the kind of sweetness you’d find in a piece of fruit, but rather a subtle undertone that rounds out the flavor. And then there’s a hint of bitterness, just enough to add a bit of complexity to the taste.
But wait, there’s a surprise element too! Masago has a faint citrus-like quality that brightens up the flavor. It’s like a squeeze of lemon on a fresh piece of fish. It enhances the other flavors and adds a refreshing twist.
Now, let’s talk about the aroma. Masago doesn’t have a strong smell, but a faint fishy scent reminds you of its origins. It’s not overpowering but rather a subtle hint that complements the taste.
Types Of Masago
There are a few different types of Masago, each with its own unique characteristics:
- Orange Masago: This is the most common type you’ll find. It has the classic Masago flavor, mildly sweet, slightly salty, and subtly fishy, with a hint of bitterness and a citrus undertone.
- Red Masago: This variety is dyed red and has a slightly different flavor. It’s a bit sweeter than the orange variety but still has that characteristic salty-sea flavor.
- Black Masago: This is a rarer type of Masago that’s dyed black. It has a flavor similar to the orange variety but a slightly stronger ocean flavor.
- Green Masago: This variety is dyed green and often flavored with wasabi, giving it a spicy kick that adds an extra dimension to the classic Masago flavor.
What Does Masago Compare With?
There are a few foods that are similar to Masago, either in taste, texture, or use:
- Caviar: This is the roe of the sturgeon fish and is considered a luxury food item. It’s saltier and has a stronger flavor than Masago, but it’s used similarly as a garnish.
- Salmon Roe (Ikura): These are much larger eggs with a strong, fishy flavor. They’re often used in sushi and have a similar pop when you bite into them.
- Flying Fish Roe (Tobiko): Tobiko is larger than Masago and has a crunchier texture. It’s often used in sushi and has a slightly smoky flavor.
What Is Masago Sushi?
Masago sushi is a delightful creation from the world of Japanese cuisine. It’s a type of sushi where Masago, the roe of the Capelin fish, plays a starring role. The vibrant orange color of Masago adds a visual appeal to the sushi, while its unique flavor and texture enhance the overall eating experience.
Masago sushi is typically served as a topping or filling in various types of sushi rolls. Masago’s tiny, crunchy eggs provide a delightful contrast to the soft, vinegared rice and the smooth, velvety texture of the seaweed wrap.
Each bite into a piece of Masago sushi is a burst of oceanic flavors, a little salty, a tad sweet, with a hint of bitterness and a refreshing citrus undertone.
One common variation is the Masago Maki, a type of sushi roll where Masago is used as a filling. The roll is made with sushi rice and nori (seaweed), with a generous layer of Masago in the center. When you slice the roll, you can see the beautiful orange color of the Masago, creating a striking contrast with the white rice and the black seaweed.
Gunkan Maki with Masago
Another popular variation is the Gunkan Maki with Masago. Gunkan Maki, also known as “battleship sushi,” is a type of sushi where a strip of nori is wrapped around a ball of sushi rice, creating a vessel that can be filled with various ingredients. In this case, the “battleship” is filled with Masago, creating a sushi piece that’s not only delicious but also visually stunning.
Temaki, or hand rolls, are another type of sushi where Masago can shine. In a Masago Temaki, a cone of nori is filled with sushi rice and topped with a generous amount of Masago. The result is a hand-held sushi treat that’s as fun to eat as it is tasty.
Each of these variations showcases Masago differently, allowing you to enjoy its unique flavor and texture in a variety of forms.
What does masago taste like?
Masago has a mildly sweet and slightly salty flavor with a subtle hint of the sea. There’s also a faint bitterness and a citrus-like undertone that gives it a refreshing edge. When you bite into these tiny eggs, they burst in your mouth, releasing their flavor in a delightful little pop.
What is the difference between masago and tobiko?
Masago is the fish roe of the Capelin fish, while tobiko is the roe of the Flying Fish. Tobiko is larger and crunchier than Masago and has a slightly smoky flavor. Masago is smaller and has a mildly sweet, slightly salty, subtly fishy flavor with a hint of bitterness and a citrus undertone.
How is masago prepared and used in sushi?
Masago is often used as a garnish in sushi. It can be used as a topping on sushi rolls, adding a pop of color and a burst of flavor. It can also be used as a filling in certain types of sushi, like Masago Maki. In Gunkan Maki, a type of sushi that looks like a little battleship, Masago is used as the ‘cargo.’ It’s also used in Temaki, or hand rolls, where it’s combined with sushi rice inside a cone of nori.
What are the nutritional benefits of masago?
Masago is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids that benefit heart health. It’s also low in calories and contains a good amount of protein. However, it’s worth noting that Masago is high in cholesterol and sodium, so it should be consumed in moderation.
Is masago a sustainable seafood choice?
Yes, Masago is considered a more sustainable choice than other roe types. The Capelin fish, from which Masago is harvested, is abundant and not currently considered overfished. However, as with all seafood, sourcing it from suppliers who follow sustainable fishing practices is important.
My Tasty Thoughts
When it comes to pairing, Masago is a team player. It’s often used in sushi, where its flavor complements the taste of the rice and seaweed. But it also works well with creamy ingredients, like avocado or mayonnaise, where its salty-sweet flavor can cut through the richness.
Whether it’s in a sushi roll, on top of a canapé, or mixed into a pasta dish, Masago adds a burst of flavor and a fun texture that elevates the dish. So, if you’re looking to add a touch of the sea to your meals, Masago might just be the ingredient you’re looking for.