What is Masago? The Delicious Secret Behind Your Favorite Sushi

Aly ZK


If you’re a sushi lover, you’ve likely encountered those tiny, vibrant orange eggs that add a burst of flavor and a delightful crunch to your favorite rolls. These little gems are called masago, and they’re more than just a garnish. Let’s dive into the delicious secret behind massago and discover why it plays such a crucial role in sushi.

Understanding Masago

What is Masago? Massago is the roe (eggs) of the capelin fish, a species found in the cold waters of the North Atlantic, North Pacific, and Arctic oceans. These eggs are known for their small size, crisp texture, and distinct taste, making them a popular ingredient in sushi and various other dishes.

Culinary Significance In the culinary world, massago is prized for its versatility. It’s commonly used in Japanese cuisine, especially in sushi and sashimi. Its vibrant color and unique texture add both visual appeal and a burst of umami flavor to dishes.

How Masago is Harvested

Sustainable Practices Capelin fish are typically harvested during their spawning season. Sustainable fishing practices are crucial to ensure that the capelin populations are not depleted. Fishermen collect the roe, which is then processed and packaged for culinary use.

Processing Once harvested, the eggs are cleaned, salted, and sometimes flavored with natural ingredients like soy sauce or wasabi. This not only enhances their flavor but also helps preserve them for longer shelf life.

The Flavor Profile of Masago

Taste and Texture Masago has a slightly salty and savory flavor with a hint of sweetness. Its texture is crunchy, providing a delightful contrast to the softness of sushi rice and fish. This combination of taste and texture makes masago a beloved ingredient in many dishes.

Color and Presentation Typically, masago is naturally pale yellow, but it is often dyed vibrant orange to enhance its visual appeal. This bright color makes sushi rolls more attractive and appetizing.

Nutritional Benefits

Rich in Nutrients Masago is not just tasty; it’s also packed with nutrients. It is a good source of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamins B12 and D. These nutrients contribute to overall health, supporting everything from brain function to bone health.

Low in Calories For those watching their calorie intake, masago is a great addition to meals. It adds flavor and texture without significantly increasing the calorie count, making it an excellent choice for healthy eating.

Popular Uses of Masago

In Sushi Masago is most commonly found in sushi rolls, either inside the roll or sprinkled on top. It adds a delightful crunch and a burst of flavor that complements the other ingredients perfectly.

Sashimi and Nigiri In sashimi and nigiri, masago is often used as a garnish. It not only enhances the taste but also adds a pop of color to the presentation, making the dish more appealing.

Sauces and Dressings Masago can also be used in sauces and dressings. Mixed with mayonnaise or other condiments, it creates a flavorful dip or spread that pairs well with a variety of foods.

Masago vs. Tobiko

What’s the Difference? Many people confuse masago with tobiko, another type of fish roe used in sushi. While both are similar, there are distinct differences. Tobiko comes from flying fish and is slightly larger, with a more robust texture and flavor compared to masago.

Flavor and Texture Tobiko tends to be crunchier and has a more intense flavor, while masago is milder and smoother. Both are delicious, but they offer different experiences depending on the dish.

Buying and Storing Masago

Where to Buy Masago can be found in most Asian grocery stores or specialty food markets. It’s usually sold in small containers and is relatively affordable compared to other types of fish roe.

Storage Tips To ensure freshness, masago should be stored in the refrigerator and consumed within a few days of opening. It can also be frozen for longer storage, but make sure to thaw it in the refrigerator before use to maintain its texture and flavor.

Cooking with Masago

Simple Recipes Incorporating masago into your cooking is easy and can elevate your dishes. Try adding it to salads, pasta, or as a topping for avocado toast. Its unique flavor and texture can transform ordinary meals into extraordinary culinary experiences.

Creative Ideas Get creative with masago! Use it as a garnish for deviled eggs, mix it into cream cheese for a flavorful spread, or even sprinkle it on pizza for an unexpected twist. The possibilities are endless.


Masago is more than just a pretty topping for your sushi. Its unique flavor, crunchy texture, and nutritional benefits make it a versatile and valuable ingredient in many dishes. Next time you enjoy your favorite sushi roll, you’ll know the delicious secret behind those tiny orange eggs and why they are cherished by chefs and food lovers alike.


Q: What is massago?
A: Massago is the roe (eggs) of the capelin fish, known for its small size, crunchy texture, and savory flavor, commonly used in sushi.

Q: How is massago harvested?
A: Massago comes from capelin fish harvested during their spawning season. The roe is processed, salted, and sometimes flavored for culinary use.

Q: What does massago taste like?
A: Massago has a slightly salty and savory taste with a hint of sweetness, complementing sushi and other dishes.

Q: What are the nutritional benefits of massago?
A: Massago is rich in protein, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins B12 and D, and low in calories, making it a nutritious addition to meals.

Q: Where can you buy massago?
A: Massago is available in most Asian grocery stores or specialty food markets, sold in small containers for easy use in cooking.

Q: How should massago be stored?
A: Store massago in the refrigerator and consume it within a few days of opening, or freeze it for longer storage and thaw in the refrigerator before use.

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