In recent years, sushi has become increasingly popular globally, and with it, so has the use of various kinds of fish eggs as toppings. Masago is one such ingredient that often adorns sushi rolls, adding a unique burst of flavor and texture to the dish. In this article, we will explore in detail what masago is, its various types, nutritional value, and its traditional uses in Japanese cuisine.
What is Masago?
Masago is a Japanese culinary term used to refer to the small, bright orange, individually encapsulated fish eggs from the capelin fish species. Capelin eggs are often called masago in Japan, but in other countries, the same term may refer to the roe of different fish species like smelt, herring, or salmon. The capelin fish belongs to the smelt family and is found in the cold waters of the North Atlantic and the Northern Pacific oceans.
The Types of Masago
There are two popular types of masago:
Natural masago is the raw fish eggs that are extracted from the capelin fish. It has a bright orange color and a slightly salty taste, perfectly complementing different sushi dishes.
Flavored masago undergoes different processes to give it a unique taste. Common flavors include wasabi, squid ink, seaweed, and yuzu, among others. Flavored masago often has a vibrant color that matches the flavor it is infused with, giving sushi rolls a pop of color and taste.
Medical Benefits of Masago
Like other fish eggs, masago contains essential nutrients that are good for the human body. Some of these nutrients include.
- Omega-3 fatty acids
- Vitamins: A, D, E, and K
Uses of Masago in Japanese Cuisine
Masago is a fundamental ingredient in various Japanese sushi dishes, often adding a subtle crunch and a delightful salty taste. The traditional methods of serving masago include:
As earlier mentioned, masago is a popular sushi topping, often wrapped inside rolls, adding a delightful contrast in both taste and appearance.
Masago is a great sushi decoration, used to create beautiful designs on top of raw fish slices or elegantly arranged on the edge of dishes.
Sashimi refers to raw fish slices, and masago often finds itself served together with them, adding color to the dish while providing bursts of flavors.
How to Store Masago
To retain its freshness, one can wrap masago in a damp cloth or paper towel and store it in an airtight container. It is also advisable to keep it in a freezer as it will prolong its shelf life. Once opened, masago must be consumed within three days to retain its taste and texture.
Dangers of Eating Masago
While masago has plenty of nutritional benefits, it would help if you also were careful when consuming it. Like other fish species, capelin fish may contain mercury, which can be harmful in large quantities. Moderation is key to enjoying its benefits without risking mercury poisoning.
Masago is a simple yet elegant addition to various Japanese dishes. Its bold and salty flavors make it one of the most preferred sushi toppings globally, and rightly so. Be sure to give it a try the next time you visit your local sushi joint.
Frequently Asked Questions about Masago
- What is Masago?
Masago refers to the small, bright orange, individually encapsulated fish eggs from the capelin fish species, often used as a sushi topping.
- What is the nutritional value of masago?
Masago contains essential nutrients such as protein, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins A, D, E, and K, selenium, and calcium.
- What are the different types of masago?
The two popular types of masago are natural masago and flavored masago.
- How does one store masago?
To retain its freshness, one can store masago in the freezer wrapped in a damp cloth or paper towel and stored in an airtight container.
- Are there any dangers of eating masago?
Like other fish species, capelin fish may contain mercury, which can be harmful in large quantities. Moderation is key to enjoying its benefits without risking mercury poisoning.
- Lee, J., Hwang, Y., Kang, E., & An, M. (2021). Changes in lipid and cholesterol oxidation of masago (Capelin Fish Roe) during storage after cooking. Foods, 10(2), 385.
- Kang, S.M. (2016). Characterization and comparison of physicochemical properties of red caviar, masago, and normal capelin roe. Korean Journal of Food Science and Technology, 48(2), 166-171.
- Shaptu, S.A., Sultana, S., Yeasmin, F., & Yeasmin, T. (2017). The Medicinal Value and Nutritional Properties of Some Common Fish Eggs. Journal of Nutrition and Food Sciences, 7(5), 1000622.