Smelt Roe Or Flying Fish Roe Also Known As Masago


Smelt Roe and Other Sushi Recipes

Smelt Roe - Masago

What Is Smelt Roe, also known as a Masago?

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The smelt belongs to the family of fish called Osmeridae. The capelin, rainbow smelt, and European smelt are smaller classifications of these fish.

Fish eggs are referred to as roe, so smelt roe is simply eggs from smelt fish. Smelt egg, much like caviar, is the roe from sturgeons.

The capelin fish is a member of the smelt family and is an essential forage fish deemed a staple in the diets of the Atlantic cod and other species like the harp seal. (1)

Smelt Roe: An Overview

In sushi restaurants, smelt roe is very popular despite the rarity of smelt fish meat. 

A reddish-orange color distinguishes smelt roe from other fish, and its omega-3 fatty acids are highly beneficial to your health. 

Omega-3 fatty acids contribute to heart health and mental well-being. 

Anyone interested in delicious food should explore the many uses of smelt roe, or masago as it is known in Japan. 

It has many uses, including standalone rolls, covering the outside of sushi rolls as a garnish, or even being used as a spread.

Smelt Roe Vs Salmon Roe

Smelt roe and salmon roe are fish eggs, but they come from different types of fish. Smelt roe is the egg of the smelt fish, while salmon roe is the egg of the salmon fish.

They have different tastes, textures, and appearances. Smelt roe is smaller and has a more delicate texture and milder flavor than salmon roe, which is larger and has a crunchy texture and a more pungent taste. They are both commonly used in sushi dishes.

Why Not Try Smelt Roe Today

Smelt roe might be a practical choice to expand your dietary horizons. In addition to its unique taste, it’s also fantastic for your health and can be eaten in many ways. For those interested in trying it for the first time, here are some recipes to get you started.

Spicy Tuna Roll

Sushi-grade tuna (freeze for one week before using)

2 tablespoons Sriracha hot chili paste
2 stalks of green onion, chopped
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 English cucumbers, sliced lengthwise inch thick
2 ounces smelt roe or flying fish roe
3 sheets of nori (toasted seaweed) – many varieties, price varies with the quality

How To Make

  • Cut tuna into strips about an inch square with a sharp knife.
  • Mix a bowl of tuna, Siracha hot chili paste, green onion, and mayonnaise.
  • Follow the same method of rolling the roll for the California roll, substituting the strips of spicy tuna and cucumber for the filling.

Smelt Roe or Flying Fish Roe, Also Called Masago

It makes about 6 rolls (1 roll yields 8 pieces)

Recipe courtesy Suehiro


Sushi bamboo roller
Rice cooker
Sharp knife
Cutting board
Sushi rice

How To Make

  • 6 cups uncooked Japanese rice (Suehiro uses Calrose, Nishiki is another good brand.)
    1 cup seasoned rice vinegar\
  • Wash rice six times until the water runs clear, and let it stand for 15 minutes.
  • The water to rice ratio will vary among different rice brands and between new crops and old crops.
  • Generally, 1 cup rice to 1 cup water after the rice soaks is a good start.
  • Cook rice on a rice stove and then let stand for 15 minutes.
  • If you don’t have a rice cooker, simmer the rice on the stove for 20 minutes. Mix in seasoned rice vinegar.
  • Cool rice with a fan until it is at room temperature.

California Roll

lb. King crab legs
2 English cucumbers, sliced lengthwise inch thick
2 Hass avocados, ripe but still firm and cut into about 12 strips
2 ounces smelt roe
Toasted sesame seeds
3 sheets of nori (toasted seaweed)

How To Make

  • To roll inside/out sushi (with rice on the outside): Cover the bamboo roller with plastic wrap to prevent sticking.
  • Cut a piece of nori in half horizontally.
  • Wet hands. Take a baseball-sized ball of rice (about 1 cup) and form it into a ball.
  • Place rice ball on the nori and spread it from left to right, about an inch thick.
  • Disperse the rice to the edges.
  • Turn nori over so that the nori is on top of the rice.
  • Spread a few ounces of crab legs lengthwise on the nori.
  • Place 2 or 3 slices of cucumber lengthwise on top of the crab.
  • Place the 3 or 4 avocado pieces on top of the crab legs.
  • Roll sushi away from you and tuck ends together (You can use the bamboo roller for this or use your hands).
  • Roll bamboo roller over sushi roll to shape into a round or triangular shape.
  • Cut the roll in half, and dip each half into a shallow bowl of smelt roe.
  • Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds. Cut each half of the roll into quarters.

It makes about 6 rolls (1 roll yields 8 pieces)

Recipes courtesy Suehiro

Where to find sushi supplies

Fish, 150 W. Oak St., and Pelican Fish Restaurant & Fish Market, 3512 S. Mason St. sell sushi-grade fish.

For a fish to be considered sushi-grade, it must meet standards of both quality and freshness.

According to Ed Kendall of Suehiro Japanese Restaurant, the health department recommends that you freeze the fish for one week to ensure against parasites. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight.

Bamboo rollers and rice cookers are available at East-West Imports, 203 W. Myrtle St., and The Cupboard, 153 S. College Ave.

East-West Imports sells nori (seaweed), gari (pinked ginger), smelt roe, and wasabi. Wasabi and nori are generally available in the international food sections of larger supermarkets with Japanese cuisine.