Sparkling Orange Gems – Ikura
Of all the festive holiday fare that we offer this time of year one of my all time favorites is one of the loveliest, luxurious and most delicious gems of the sea – salmon roe. Called ikura in Japan, many Americans recognize it as the large orange eggs at the sushi bar served on top of rice and wrapped in nori seaweed. Most ikura comes from wild Alaskan salmon with the majority coming from chum salmon because of the large size, firmness and flavor of the eggs. At their best, these bright glistening jewels are not only beautiful but have a lightly salty, rich flavor of the sea with a fairly thick casing that, when they pop on the roof of the mouth, explode with a burst of goodness!
Along with this experience comes fantastic health benefits. They are full of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, minerals and also high in lean proteins. Ikura can be served as a main course such as ikura don (over rice), tossed in scrambled eggs, served over cold soups or garnished over a seafood pasta, however the possibilities for appetizers are endless.
Serve over lightly buttered toast points or bland crackers (as you would with sturgeon caviar) or over blinis and crème fraîche. Try topping ikura over smoked salmon spread in endive, on top of gravlax with a sprig of dill, or just served with crackers. One of our favorite ways to serve ikura has always been over a freshly shucked oyster on the half shell, topped with a touch of finely chopped purple onion; but I think we topped that last night with some super plump pemaquid oysters from the Damariscotta River in Maine along with our tangy mignonette sauce and those shiny jewels shimmering on top!
Ikura is the only wild roe we offer. After the collapse of the Soviet Union true Caspian Sea caviar wasn’t controlled by the state anymore and has since been overfished and mismanaged. We sell excellent quality farm raised sturgeon caviar but the flavor, versatility, health benefits and sheer beauty of ikura can’t be beat! Not to mention it’s a fraction of the cost of sturgeon caviar.