What is Masago caviar?
In the recipes of Asian dishes, there are very often ingredients that are completely unfamiliar to the domestic consumer. For example, rolls and sushi are often prepared with masago caviar. Apart from this name, the product is also called chaplain or capelin caviar. And then it becomes clear that the usual capelin caviar is hidden under the exotic name. So, are you interested in Masago and how to use it in the culinary of rolls? Let’s dive in!
The fish is an important commercial item and belongs to the Smelt family. It is mined in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, as well as in the Norwegian and Barents seas. Large schools of capelin often inhabit the shores of Greenland, USA, Canada, Russia and the Arctic. The name chaplain comes from the scientific Mallotus villosus, which sounds like that in English.
Numerous domestic stores that specialize in the sale of goods for making rolls, sushi and sashimi use this exotic name for fish. And here we can agree, because capelin caviar sounds too ordinary in comparison with the Japanese product called masago caviar. And, nevertheless, this product is mainly supplied by Russia, Canada and Iceland. Capelin has several subspecies, which differ in both habitat and appearance.
For example, in the coastal waters of Japan, the capelin Shishamo (柳葉 魚) is found, which means fish “like willow leaves”. Individuals of this species have a thin, elongated body, which in reality resembles the leaves of a plant, for which they received such a poetic name. The Japanese subspecies of capelin belongs to the genus Spinha and the species Spirinchus lanceolatus. This subspecies can be observed exclusively off the coast of Hokkaido. It is the Shishamo capelin that gives the true masago caviar, which often decorates simple gunkan maki and more complex California rolls, as well as other types of sushi.
The most significant difference between the Japanese species is the habitat of the fish, unlike other individuals that live in the salty waters of the seas and oceans, the Shishamo is a freshwater fish. In cooking, not only capelin caviar is used, but also meat. Fish, for example, can be fried whole without removing the head or taking out the caviar.
The natural color of masago caviar ranges from white – yellow to orange. Manufacturers often tint the product with natural dyes to get other interesting colors. On sale you can find masago caviar in red, black, orange, white, yellow and even green.
The benefits of masago caviar
A natural product has several specific taste qualities, so chicken eggs, various spices, soy oil or mayonnaise are often added to the caviar. The chemical composition of the product contains a whole line of useful vitamins of groups A, C, D, B, as well as very useful fatty acids of natural origin. Masago caviar is an ideal supplement for any person’s balanced diet.
Each 1 mm grain of an egg gives life to the whole organism. Imagine what nutritional wealth and biological power are hidden in the chaplain’s caviar!
- It is a natural source of complete protein with essential amino acids. Moreover, it is absorbed by 95-98% – almost completely.
- Caviar fish oil supplies omega-3 and omega-6 unsaturated fatty acids. They participate in all metabolic processes, postpone gerontological aging, and activate the brain.
- All microelements necessary for the body are in a natural ratio and easily assimilated form. Here you have molybdenum for the musculoskeletal system, bromine for a favorable psycho-emotional state, manganese for the nervous system, the brain, the best protector against aggressive factors, selenium and, of course, the regulator of the hormonal status of iodine.
How to use masago caviar in the kitchen?
Masago caviar is used to decorate gunkans. The ingredient is simply irreplaceable for external deboning of sushi:
- “Ura-makov” (with rice outside). This is California in many interpretations, Mikado with shrimp and cream cheese, Toyama with snow crab and salmon filling.
- baked rolls. Thanks to red caviar, masago are not only tasty, but also elegant cheese rolls with shrimp, chicken and cucumber, with eel and sauce from unagi and yaki.
In hot rolls, chaplain – the flavoring accent of the fillings and delicate texture. Another famous use of the ingredient is masago spicy sauce. Each sushi restaurant has its own secret of preparation, sacredly guarded from competitors.
Which is better: tobiko or masago
Masago and tobiko: Both are caviar, which is used to make rolls. Both species have small eggs (much smaller than salmon roe), bright, usually red or orange (sometimes black, green, yellow or purple), as well as tobiko and masago – added to rolls. This is where the similarities between masago and tobiko end. Now you will finally make sure that these are two completely different types of caviar, albeit very similar in appearance.
The first and perhaps most significant difference is that masago and tobiko are caviar obtained from different fish. Masago caviar is the caviar of the chaplain fish, which we also call capelin. But tobiko is the general name for caviar of more than 80 species of fish that belong to the flying fish family.
The second difference is size. If you put tobiko eggs and masago eggs next to each other, you will definitely notice the difference. Masago is very small, no more than 0.5 mm. Even the name of this caviar “masago” comes from the Japanese word “masa”, which means sand. While the size of tobiko caviar ranges from 0.5mm to 1mm.
Taste and consistency is what makes masago different from tobiko. Of course, the way they are salted is practically the same, so masago and tobiko are still very similar in the end. However, due to the different origins of caviar, true connoisseurs of taste can find differences. Tobiko caviar is stiffer and drier but does not crunch as much as masago. Masago is softer and more tender than tobiko. However, the consistency of tobiko caviar is better for most rolls, as it contains less moisture than masago. Due to its “sandy” structure, masago more strongly retains moisture from the brine in which it was pickled, which must be taken into account when preparing rolls.
The roe of the flying fish tobiko is no less famous than the masago. The difference here is small:
- in their natural state, both marine representatives are inconspicuous: tobiko is almost colorless, and the caviar of the chaplain is pale yellow.
- the chaplain’s eggs are smaller and more tender, but they do not crunch and are almost not felt in the mouth, but you will definitely feel the structure of tobiko;
- the sweetish taste of flying fish eggs is more pronounced.
- The chaplain’s delicate consistency works well with the tobiko flavor, so they can be used together.
Buddha bowl with salmon and masago caviar
You know the rules for making bowls, right? This is a dish with many ingredients, including herbs, vegetables, carbohydrates, protein and fats. Let’s do it!
Ingredients for Buddha bowl with salmon and masago caviar
- 50 gr rice
- 30 gr cucumber
- 20 gr orange masago caviar
- 30 gr salmon
- 30 gr Chuka salad
- 50 gr cherry tomatoes
- 20 gr red cabbage
- 20 g Edamame beans
- sesame black
- sesame white
Ingredients for nut sauce
- 30 g cashews
- 2 g chili pepper
- 2 g sriracha
- 5 g tamari
- 2 g vegetable oil
- 10 gr filtered water
How to prepare Buddha bowl with salmon and masago caviar
- Boil the beans in boiling water for 4 minutes.
- Cut the red cabbage into strips.
- Cut the cherry into quarters.
- Rinse cashews and soak in water for 12 hours.
- Remove the soaked cashews from the water, place in a blender bowl, add chili, vegetable oil, sriracha sauce, tamari, chili pepper. Add filtered water while cooking.
- Cook the rice according to package directions and transfer to a large serving dish.
- Cut the salmon into equal pieces.
- Cut the cucumber into thin slices.
- Put the rice on the bottom of a plate and pour over the peanut sauce.
- Top with salmon, chuku, cucumber, cabbage, tomatoes, beans, caviar. Garnish with sesame seeds.