Category: Hokanomono (other / roe) Season: Fall
The word ikura is a loan word from the Russian word "Ikra"which means fish roe. Not a traditional Edo period sushi topping, it was introduced as neta after the end of WWII.
Early season (from late August to October) ikura is considered best, as the eggs are larger and softer in consistency. Later in the fall, the eggs are smaller and can have an unpleasant rubbery texture.
To prepare ikura, a chef will soak the sujiko (eggs still contained in the ovarian sack) in salt water, then will remove the roe from the ovarian sack membrane, carefully rinse with fresh water, drain and dry for several hours, and marinate the roe overnight in equal parts shoyu and sake.
Ikura is served as gunkan-maki (warship roll - as pictured above) wrapped in roasted nori, with a bed of shari. When prepared correctly, the roe is very pleasing to the eye, with each egg a vibrant, glistening red. When eaten, each egg bursts open, delivering a rich umami flavor that is perfectly complimented by the vinegared rice and nori.