When you need to get in your daily dose of protein but you’re not in the mood for meat, fish is a great alternative, But tobiko tastes better.
Typically, when people think of eating fish, the first things that come to mind are salmon and tuna, and while these are great options, sometimes you just want to change things up a bit and for that, there’s nothing better than tobiko.
“What’s tobiko?” you may ask. If you’re an avid sushi-eater, tobiko is likely something you’ve encountered in your life- hint: they’re tiny bright orange balls that are salty and sweet in flavor and crunchy in texture.
Tobiko is commonly used in Japanese cuisine and although it can be found in a number of dishes, it is most often associated with sashimi and sushi.
If you’re thinking about trying this delicacy but want to know a little more about it before taking the step, you’ve come to the right place.
In this article, you will find everything from what tobiko is exactly to how you can store it to recipes you can try out for the most optimal tobiko eating experiences.
Get ready because these are truly egg-cellent! (hehe).
What Is Tobiko?
Tobiko is a type of roe (the internal egg masses released from the female fish) that comes from the flying fish species.
There are a variety of flying fish species, including those from the Northern Atlantic and West Indies, but the most common is the Japanese flying fish (also known as the Cheilopogon agoo).
Tobiko is very small in size and comes in the shape of tiny pearl-like balls. They usually range between 0-5 and 0.8 mm and typically come in a bright reddish-orange color.
While this is the norm, if you look for tobiko in the grocery store, you may notice that there are different colors of tobiko. This is because it is often infused with other flavors that cause it to take on different shades.
Different Types Of Tobiko
- Green: tobiko that has been paired with wasabi for extra spiciness
- Black: tobiko infused with squid ink
- Yellow: tobiko that contains citrus hints such as yuzu
- Red: tobiko that has been paired with chilis (for spice) or beats (for a mild sweetness)
- Golden: this is the most authentic and fresh type of tobiko that is simply cured with salt and not infused with any other additives
With the exception of golden tobiko, most of these kinds of tobiko are also infused with food dye to elevate their colors.
What Does Tobiko Tastes Like?
In terms of taste, tobiko is enriched with a diverse range of flavors.
Firstly, Tobiko possesses a strong salty flavor. This is due to the fact that it undergoes a salt-curing process. This process also provides the eggs with a lovely hint of smokiness.
In contrast to other types of roe, such as caviar, tobiko also contains notes of sweetness. This comes from the citrus flavors that resemble the aromas of orange zest. The sweetness is, however, mild and perfectly compliments the salty components.
As a single egg, tobiko has hardly any flavor, which is why it is typically consumed in large quantities, paired with other ingredients.
What Texture Does Tobiko Have?
One of the most attractive qualities of tobiko is its fun and unique texture.
When you eat these tiny pearls, you will first be met by a delightfully satisfying “pop.” This crunch comes from the outer layer of the skin.
Then, as you begin to chew more, you will notice the smooth and creamy texture of the interior.
Because of its diverse texture, tobiko is a wonderful addition to a variety of dishes (continue reading to find out more).
Is Tobiko Healthy?
Tobiko not only tastes great, it’s also extremely healthy.
Tobiko is loaded with protein, omega-3 fatty acids and a variety of other nutrients.
Like salmon eggs, it has also been found that tobiko is rich in phospholipid fat that has a number of health benefits, including protecting the heart and liver, decreasing inflammation as well as aiding in learning abilities.
Other nutrients include vitamin B-12 and vitamin E.
How Do You Eat Tobiko?
Tobiko is most often found in Japanese cuisine. Because of its unique, crunchy and salty flavor, tobiko pairs well with many other ingredients.
The most common way to eat tobiko is in sushi. Tobiko rolls, for example, are extremely popular and are typically made with crab, avocado and tobiko.
You may also be familiar with the California Roll, which uses surimi, avocado, cucumber, sesame and orange tobiko.
Another common way to eat tobiko is in sashimi dishes. This type of meal essentially incorporates slices of raw fish served with soy sauce and avocado slices topped with tobiko.
How To Choose Tobiko In The Grocery Store?
Choosing the right tobiko in the grocery store depends on what you’re looking for. For example, it is good to keep in mind whether or not you want the most pure form of tobiko or one that is infused with other flavors (refer to “different types of tobiko” for further details).
You should also always check the expiry date and ensure the tobiko is not going to spoil in the next few days.
You will know your tobiko is fresh if it makes that “pop” when you bite down on it.
How To Store Tobiko?
Tobiko can be stored in the fridge for 10 days to 2 weeks if the jar has not yet been opened. An opened jar of tobiko, however, should only be kept in the fridge for 2-3 days. If you do not want to use the jar, make sure you store your tobiko in an airtight container.
If you want to eat your tobiko at a later date, it can also be stored in the freezer. Tobiko can be kept in the freezer for up to 6 months, however, once thawed, it should be consumed within 3-4 days.
How To Prepare Tobiko?
Tobiko is typically eaten raw, but there are still important steps to take when preparing it.
When you buy tobiko, it often contains traces of blood and detritus (residues), so it’s vital that you wash it thoroughly.
To do this, wash your tobiko under cold water and then allow them to drain in a colander for several minutes.
Quick Table: Nutritional Value
|71 (calories from fat: 45)
|420 mg (18%)
*This table refers to golden tobiko.
Quick Table: 3 Tobiko Recipes
|Calories Per Serving
|Total Preparation Time
|1 Hour 20 Minutes
|Tobiko Salmon Mayo Rice
|Scallop Sashimi Salad With Finger Lime
Now that you’re a tobiko expert, it’s time to put your newly acquired knowledge to the test with one of these delicious and easy tobiko recipes.
Fish night never looked so good!
We couldn’t provide you with tobiko recipes without including the classic “California Rolls.”
California Rolls were invented by Japanese chefs and have been a sushi fan favorite for decades.
In terms of flavor, California Rolls incorporate a variety of tasty ingredients, including cucumber, avocado, imitation crab and you guessed it, tobiko.
This particular recipe is great as it represents the classic seafood dish perfectly and provides you with a wonderful palette of ocean flavors.
Instead of going out every time you want sushi, why not save some money and make it straight from the comfort of your own kitchen? It’s a great idea for spending a fun night with your partner or friends and is a lot easier than you may think!
So what are you waiting for? Get rolling!
Calories Per Serving: 159
Preparation Time: 1 Hour 20 Minutes
Tobiko not only pairs well with seafood, it also tastes great with fish!
Spice up your salmon night by elevating it with a little tobiko, mayo and rice ensemble.
If you’re unfamiliar with mayo rice, it is essentially a rice that is topped with nori (edible seaweed) and a tobiko, sriracha and mayo sauce.
This recipe is smooth, creamy and with a yield of 2 servings, perfect for date night.
Plus, it only takes 15 minutes to prepare. What more could you want?
Calories Per Serving: 226
Preparation Time: 30 Minutes
RELATED: What Does Veal Taste Like?
Are you throwing a party and looking for the perfect appetizer to really impress your guests? Then this sashimi dish will definitely do the trick!
If you haven’t tried raw scallops before, you’re missing out. Raw scallops are sweet, buttery and almost nutty in flavor. This recipe compliments the seafood with finger limes, tobiko and a beautiful grapefruit dressing.
If you’re currently sitting asking yourself, “what on earth are finger limes,” let us fill you in.
Finger limes are a citrus fruit native to Australia. They are extremely healthy and bursting with irresistible citrus flavor.
If you remember, we mentioned that tobiko contains slight citrusy notes, so of course, it was the only logical choice when deciding on accent flavors for this already fruity dish.
Serve this at your next seafood party and watch how quickly your guests come back for seconds!
Calories Per Serving: 158
Preparation Time: 30 Minutes
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is The Difference between Tobiko & Caviar?
Tobiko and caviar can often be mixed up with one another as they look similar and both belong to the fish egg family.
Caviar, however, is a lot more rare and, therefore, also a lot more expensive.
Caviar is often described as being a delicacy and is typically found in high-end restaurants, while tobiko can be eaten at most moderately-priced restaurants.
How To Know When Tobiko Has Gone bad?
When tobiko goes bad you will know, as it will produce a foul smell. This odor may resemble that of fish, but it will be overpowering and unpleasant.
Expired tobiko may also start to have black spots on it when it is extremely mature. In this state, it is of the utmost importance that you don’t consume it, as you could become very ill.
In order to avoid your tobiko from spoiling, it is essential that you are aware of how to properly store it.
Tobiko can be stored in the fridge for 10 days to 2 weeks if the jar has not yet been opened. An opened jar of tobiko, however, should only be kept in the fridge for 2-3 days.
If you want to freeze your tobiko, it can be kept in the freezer for up to 6 months and once thawed, should be consumed within 3-4 days.
Are Tobiko Eggs Real Eggs?
Yes, tobiko eggs are real eggs. The term used to describe fish eggs is “roe.” Roe can come from a variety of different fish, but in the case of tobiko, the fish from which the eggs are taken are “flying fish.”
What Side Dishes Pair Best With Tobiko?
Tobiko tastes better with sushi, sashimi and other fish, but it pairs well with numerous other side dishes, including:
- Crab cakes
Tobiko is great as a topping or garnish for extra flavor and is perfect for appetizer-type foods (but main dishes as well!).
Is Tobiko Safe To Eat?
Yes, tobiko is totally safe to eat, even raw. Tobiko has been pasteurized and is, therefore, not harmful.
You should, however, be careful with how much you consume as it is high in cholesterol.
Everything in moderation, am I right?
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