Kazunoko, herring roe marinated in dashi soy seasoning, is one of the popular Japanese New Year feast. This prized delicacy symbolizes prosperous family and wish for many children and grandchildren.
3 Things You Need To Know Before Cooking Kazunoko
1. Need to desalinate in salt water.
This might sound strange. Why do you desalinate (remove salt) salted herring roe with salt water" There are also some recipes ask you to soak in plain water to desalinate. So which is correct" Well, the correct way can be explained by chemistry…
When you soak in plain water, there is too much difference with the salt concentration and you will lose salt content too quickly as well as the umami of the eggs. The salinity contains sodium chloride and magnesium chloride and they have different dissolving rates (sodium chloride dissolves faster and magnesium chloride dissolves slowly).
If you soak it in plain plater, it means that sodium chloride will dissolve first and magnesium chloride will remain in the roe and gives the roe an unwanted bitter taste. In order to remove magnesium chloride, it must be further soaked in water and it will make the kazunoko lose all the umami flavor and become watery.
If you use salt water, the difference in concentration decreases and the salt slowly escapes. Only excess salt will be removed while moderate salt content and umami remain in the herring roe.
2. Gently remove membrane
The only drawback of preparing kazunoko is tedious peeling process of herring roe membrane. If you don’t remove this membrane, the dashi and seasonings won’t be absorbed well. Once the membrane is removed, kazunoko looks much prettier in color too. So be ready for this time-consuming process, especially if you have to make a lot of kazunoko…
My quick tip is to use your thumbs to press the membrane upwards against the center of the roe. Once the membranes are collected in the center, you can pull up from the edge and detach from the ...