Ingredient Spotlight: Tobiko (Flying Fish Roe)

published Feb 11, 2010
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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Tobiko, or “poor man’s caviar,” is the roe of the flying fish. It is a popular sushi ingredient, usually served sprinkled on top of maki sushi rolls or on its own. The eggs are very small, smaller than salmon roe or masago. They often come in various colors; what’s the deal?

In its natural form, tobiko is bright orange. But when infused with certain flavors, the colors change. The most common colors/flavors are:

• Green (wasabi)
• Red (Beet)
• Black (Squid Ink)

Tobiko is hardy and can hold up to processing better than more fragile fish roes such as sturgeon and salmon, so this makes it cheaper. More fragile fish roes have to be separated by hand; tobiko can be separated in a centrifuge. It can survive being frozen much better than other roes. The texture is crunchy, and the taste is a combination of salty and nutty.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

I like to put various flavored tobiko in a chirashi bowl.

I purchased my tobiko at

Sun Fat Seafood

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(Images: Kathryn Hill)