All about Ikura (What is it? How does it Taste? Is it raw? + More)
What is ikura? Ikura is the Japanese word for salmon roe (fish eggs). Ikura is typically orange and fairly large when compared to other commonly eaten roe. Ikura is one of the more expensive ingredients used in Japanese cuisine, and can be found in sushi, on salads, in kaisen don, or served all by itself. Keep reading to learn more.
Yes, the fish eggs on sushi are most certainly real (if they're not, you should be concerned). The fish eggs typically found on sushi are either the tiny red tobiko (flying fish roe), yellow, crunchy kazunoko (herring roe), spicy tarako (cod roe), or ikura, shown above. Ikura are much larger than most other fish eggs used for sushi and burst like mini water balloons when you bite them.
Is ikura raw?
Beautiful, fresh ikura
Yes. In Japan, ikura is almost always served raw but is often marinated in soy sauce or other seasonings. One of the pleasures of eating ikura is the feeling of the eggs as they burst in your mouth, and this would be ruined if they were to be cooked (not to mention the flavor would be diminished).
Can you eat raw salmon roe (ikura)?
As long as it is fresh and labeled for raw consumption (all ikura is in Japan), you can definitely eat it raw. If you've never eaten it before, I highly recommend giving it a try!
What does ikura taste like?
Ikura has a fairly mild fishy flavor. Its texture, however, is what makes it interesting to eat. Each egg is like a miniature water balloon that bursts in your mouth with flavor as you bite it. The texture can sometimes be off-putting for those trying it for the first time, but is quite enjoyable once you get used to it.
Is ikura (salmon roe) healthy?
Just like fish, ikura is filled with Omega 3 fatty acids, which supports overall health through the entire body, including regulating inflammatory and immune pathways and helping healthy cell growth and development. Ikura is also filled with Astaxanthin, a powerful antioxidant with many health benefits.
However, just like chicken eggs, ikura also is fairly high in cholesterol, so those watching their levels should be wary of eating excessive amounts.
What's the difference between ikura and sujiko?
Sujiko is ikura that is still inside of the ovary, as shown above. The ovary itself is quite tough and difficult to eat, so ikura is usually extracted before being eaten. Sometimes sujiko is preserved with salt and can last much longer than ikura.
Ikura is a popular Japanese ingredient that everyone should try! Next time you have the opportunity, go for it.
If you're interested in reading more about ikura, check out this article about an interesting restaurant in Harajuku, Tokyo that serves rare golden ikura: