The Down-Low on Herring Roe

herring roe

Typically used in sushi or as an appetizer on its own, kazunoko (herring roe) is a traditional Japanese New Year’s Day staple. The salty, yellowish ingredient can be used on its own or in a variety of dishes and can be served raw or cooked.

The crunchy eggs are exported primarily from Canada and Alaska with Japan as the primary market. The ingredient symbolizes fertility, family prosperity and luck and with historically low birth rates throughout the country of Japan, demand and cost for the delicacy are generally high.

Head chef at Tojo’s Restaurant in Vancouver, Hidekazu Tojo occasionally uses pickled and marinated kazunoko when preparing dishes at his restaurant and admits that although the texture is appealing, the taste isn’t similarly desirable.

for garnish Kazunoko is not solely a Japanese tradition: Native Americans pan-fry the eggs, calling the dish gios or ghow.

Below, Chef Tojo offers a recipe for Tojo-style kazunoko.

Komochi Konbu (“herring roe on kelp”), serves four

1/2 lb (250 g)

Komochi konbu 1/2 cup (125 ml)

Sake (rice wine) 1/2 cup (125 ml)

Mirin (sweetened rice wine) 1/4 cup (50 ml)

Light soya sauce For garnish

Bonito flakes (dried fish flakes)

1. Komochi konbu is stored in a 100% brine solution. When ready to use, place the pieces into a bowl and rinse under cool running water for about 10 to 15 minutes or until desired salinity is reached. Change the water 3 to 4 times during this process.

2. Cut komochi konbu into 11/2 inch (4 cm) pieces.

3. Remove from water, pat dry using a towel and refrigerate.

4. Combine the sake, mirin and light soya sauce in a small saucepan over medium heat. Mix well. Set aside to cool.

5. Add the komochi konbu to the sauce, mix well and refrigerate overnight. Marinated komochi konbu can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

6. To serve arrange on a small platter and garnish with bonito flakes.