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Salted Herring Roe

Traditionally eaten at New Year’s in Japan, salted herring roe or “kazunoko” are associated with health, fertility, and prosperity for one’s family in the coming year. Just like ikura style salmon roe, kazunoko is cured in a marinade base of dashi and soy sauce, but the smaller eggs have a texture more similar to the crunch of little tobiko than the larger ikura.

Along with the satisfying popping texture, kazunoko have a salty umami flavor. They can be eaten alone or on sheets of kelp, called kazunoko kombu.

When making kazunoko from herring roe, you should remove the skein, or membrane that holds the clump of eggs together. Besides being unappetizing, the skein also should be removed because doing so helps the roe absorb the marinade flavor. This also gives the kazunoko a more pleasant texture and makes it look more visually appealing — the end result are golden orange clumps that look from afar almost like mango slices.

Beyond its satisfying texture and savory taste, kazunoko is also exceptionally high in protein and also has many vitamins and minerals, although people who are watching their cholesterol should keep in mind its relatively high cholesterol content. You can buy herring roe in Uwajimaya’s seafood department and make your own kazunoko for the New Year’s!