Father's Day is June 16

Go to any sushi restaurant in Japan and notice that "ikura" or salmon roe, is either written in katakana or hiragana. I was curious as to why it was often written in katakana--the alphabet designated to loanwords. I asked the master at Sushi Danran about this curiosity. He told me that "ikura" イクラ comes from the Russian language. The Russian word for "caviar" is "ikra" hence, "ikura" in Japanese. Salmon roe is prevalent in Russia--so much so that they have salmon roe flavored Lay's! Hit me up.

Last week, my fish monger had some beautiful sacs of salmon roe in his display. I snatched up 1/4 lb at $13.99/lb.


It comes in a membrane sac that holds together all the eggs. This sac must be removed, and the eggs marinated to resemble the ikura that is served in your sushi.

Ikura Shoyu Marinade

1/4 lb. fresh salmon roe (sujiko)
3 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp sake


1. Place sujiko in warm water and break the eggs away from the sac. The eggs are delicate so be careful when separating them from the membrane sack.


2. Once they are broken apart, rinse them through a colander with cold water.


3. Combine soy sauce and sake in a small saucepan and bring the mixture to a boil. Wait until the mixture cools down.

4. Place the ikura in a air-tight food storage container. Pour the liquid mixture over it.


5. Seal the lid on the container and place it in the refrigerator. Wait for a half day before eating.


Приятного аппетита! (Prijatnovo appetita)



Column: Japanify


  • I live in kenai alaska an if you get on Facebook an search any fishing pages here in Alaska you will see so many people throwing eggs right out I even do it myself I do keep about 10 lbs an I make salmon eggs for bit for the August run of silver salmon fishing but I will definitely try this

    Frankie Carmody on

  • I need that inside me. My mouth that is.

    Craig on

  • Thanks, I love my new D3100. Yeah, ikura would always stand out to me on sushi menus because it would be amongst a sea of kanji.

    yoko on

  • Wow, I didn’t know about the etymology of ‘ikura’. How interesting! And I didn’t realise that you tsukeru the ikura either. Beautiful photos Yoko:)

    sakura on

  • 北海道出身の三浦は、イクラが大好物です。秋になると各家々で異なる味のイクラが作られます。これはご近所や友人からプレゼントされることも多く、秋の冷蔵庫の中はイクラでいっぱいになります。

    kenji miura on

  • Craig – I hope you can get sujiko where you are.

    yoko on

  • Thanks for the clarification. It worked okay for me with tepid water though.

    yoko on

  • So, I tried your recipe but it took me like, 2 hours or something to get all the nasty membrane off of the eggs. And a lot of them popped. I think that the water that they are soaked in has to be quite hot in order for them to “firm up” for rough handling. So if anyone tries this at home, I suggest using hot (some recipes suggested 100 deg) water. The eggs will turn opaque but then will become transparent again once they are cured in the shoyu or salt.

    worm on

  • this is so amazing! now I’m starving for fish eggs at 8 am.

    Sarah Nevada on

  • ps – thanks for this, Yoko! I had given up on eating seasoned sujiko in the states until this.

    seri on

  • Worm – I made mine w/ the sac and it came off easily after marinating. That might be worth trying? I grew up eating it w/ the sac, so it wasn’t a big deal with it on, too.

    Yoko – do you dump the marinade and rinse after the day of soaking? Mine were perfect after a day of marinating, but after day two, it was too salty. I dumped out the marinade and did a quick rinse w/ water. Did you have to do that? Maybe I have to eat it faster…

    seri on

  • We in alaska have salmon roe in abundance. my uncle just left here from work with 15 pounds of copper river red salmon roe. I sent him the like to this page and he is making this as i type. 15 pounds is a small amount for us here. People usually throw this into the river after cleaning their fish.E-mail me if anyone is interested in some roe!!! i can send you pictures of fresh roe coming out of the belly of the fish as we clean them.

    robert on

  • Wow- thank you for this information. I have been really craving ikura recently and have been paying quite a bit to eat it ready-made at home. It was quite fun (and gross) making it, but it was definitely worth it.

    Mumin on

  • I absolutely love ikura and have been looking for a marinade recipe! - Thank you!

    lynne on

  • i have a fishin cousin in cordova who shares generously but not ikura; 15 pounds omg; i think he throws it away; as an aside, anyone have ideas for sansho powders for fish or…; just got back from kyoto; what a grt spice

    richard on

  • Robert, That sounds like a dream! “People usually throw this into the river after cleaning their fish.” That BREAKS my heart! I want some roe! I would love to see some pictures of fresh roe coming out of the fish belly! Please send pictures to info@umamimart.com. Please let me know how this recipe turns out for you guys. I also posted a recipe using salt here:

    yoko on

  • Excellent recipe. Much better then salted roe. I just made a batch from some fresh steelhead roe.

    Most people around here use the roe of salmon and steelhead for bait.

    Dave on

  • I never received the photos from Robert, although I am still very interested in seeing them. Thanks for sharing the recipe with your friend.

    yoko on

  • I shared the Japanify: Ikura Shoyu Zuke post and recipe with a friend who just returned from a fishing trip to Alaska. He returned with salmon roe and didn’t know what to do with it. I hope you’ll post the photos that Robert offered to share.

    ROY on

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