Fans of sushi will be familiar with tobiko, those mild, tiny, neon colored fish eggs that pop between your teeth. Tobiko, the roe of a number of flying fish species, is often served as a garnish for specialty rolls or on it’s own. However, what is often listed as tobiko on a sushi menu in the United States is most likely masago, the roe of a more plentiful fish species found in the waters off Iceland. Unless you are a master sushi chef, the difference between tobiko and masago might be hard to detect.
The roe is salted and processed, much like traditional caviar, but is much more affordable. If you live in a city with a large Japanese or Korean population, as we have in Las Vegas, containers of masago can be found in the seafood department alongside other sushi ingredients. While we enjoy masago with our sushi, we like it even more as an ingredient in omelets, stirred into sour cream for a baked potato topping, or my favorite, piled on top of cream cheese on a toasted bagel. A couple spoonfulls of masago folded into your everyday egg salad filling will transform it into something memorable. Warning, this stuff might be as addicting as crack, but at less than $10 for the six ounce container shown above, it’s a lot cheaper (and safer).
If you live in Las Vegas, masago is easy to find in any of the larger markets in Chinatown on Spring Mountain (we are partial to the Greenland Market). If you live outside Las Vegas, many specialty gourmet shops and fish markets also carry masago these days, thanks to the popularity of homemade sushi.