Crunchy, salty and with a hint of smoke – tobiko has quickly found its way into the UK’s top sushi restaurants over the past few years. They’re the small, orange, pearl-like blobs that sit on top of sashimi, maki and other raw fish dishes from the country, offering some much needed crunch to the softer textures of rice and raw fish.
‘Tobiko tastes like seaweed and I love using it because of its crunchy texture,’ says Hideki Hiwatashi, the head chef at Sake no Hana. ‘It works well in Japanese dishes as the flavours complement things like seafood stock, fermented ingredients and raw fish. Ponzu, yuzu and natto [fermented soybeans] all work well with tobiko.’
As you may have guessed, tobiko is a type of fish roe (or caviar). It comes from flying fish, and while it looks similar to salmon roe (known as ikura in Japan), the eggs are much smaller and differ in texture. They’re often used to garnish dishes, and more extravagant sushi platters are piled high with the roe as a sign of wealth.