Roe or hard roe is the fully ripe internal ovaries or egg masses of fish and certain marine animals, such as shrimp, scallop and sea urchins. As a seafood roe is used both as a cooked ingredient in many dishes and as a raw ingredient.
Caviar is a name for processed, salted roe consumed as a delicacy.
The term soft roe or white roe denotes fish milt.
Around the world
Roe from the Hilsa
fish is considered a delicacy in West Bengal
. The roe is usually deep-fried, although other preparations such as mashed roe
where the roe crushed along with oil, onion & pepper, or curry of roe
can also be found.
In the state of Kerala roe is deep fried in coconut oil, and is considered a delicacy. Among the tribal populace, roe that has been deeply-roasted over an open fire is a delicacy. In this region, the roe of rohu is also considered a delicacy and is eaten fried or as a stuffing within a fried pointed gourd to make potoler dolma.
All along the Konkan coast and Northern Kerala, the roe of sardines, black mackerel and several other fish is considered a delicacy. The roe can be eaten fried (after being coated with red chilli paste) and also as a thick curry (gashi). In Kerala, a common method of quick preparation is to wrapping the roe in wet banana leaves and cook it over charcoal embers.
In the Caspian
provinces of Gilan
, several types of roe are used. Called ashpal
, roe is consumed grilled, cured, salted, or mixed with other ingredients. If salted or cured, it is consumed as a condiment. If used fresh, it is usually grilled, steamed, or mixed with eggs and fried to form a custard
-like dish called "Ashpal Kuku".
Besides the much sought-after caviar, roe from Kutum (also known as Caspian White Fish or Rutilus Frisii Kutum), Roach (called "Kuli" in Gileki), Bream (called "Kulmeh" in Gileki), and Caspian Salmon are highly prized. Roe from Carp is less common and Barbel roe is also occasionally used.
A variety of roe types are used in Japanese cuisine, including the following which are used raw in sushi:
- Ikura (イクラ) - Salmon roe. Large reddish-orange individual spheres. Since salmon eggs are also used as bait, first-time sushi eaters who have experienced fishing may be taken aback when served ikura. It is a loan word from the Russian, "ikra" (caviar).
- Sujiko (すじこ) - Also salmon roe. The difference is that sujiko is still inside its sack when it is prepared. It also has a different color; sujiko is red to dark-red while ikura is lighter in color, sometimes almost orange. Sujiko is also sweeter in taste.
- Masago - Smelt roe, similar to Tobiko, but smaller.
- Kazunoko (数の子/鯑) - Herring roe, yellow or pinkish, having a firm, rubbery texture and appearance, usually pickled. The roe is in a single cohesive mass and so looks like a piece of fish.
- Mentaiko (明太子) - Alaska pollock roe, spiced with powdered red pepper and surrounded by a thin, elastic membrane. Mentaiko is usually pink to dark red.
- Tarako (たらこ) - Salted Alaska pollock roe, sometimes grilled.
- Tobiko (飛び子) - Flyingfish roe, very crunchy, reddish orange in color.
- Uni (うに, 雲丹) - Sea urchin roe, soft and melting. Color ranges from orange to pale yellow. Humans consume the reproductive organs ("roe") either raw or briefly cooked. Sea urchin roe is a popular food in Korean cuisine, and it is called "uni" in Japanese sushi cuisine. It is also a traditional food in Chile, known as an "erizo". Apart from domestic consumption, Chile and a number of other countries export the sea urchin to Japan in order to meet its demand throughout the country. Traditionally considered an aphrodisiac, sea urchin roe has been found to contain the cannabinoid anandamide.
- Karasumi (カラスミ, 鱲子) - is a specialty of Nagasaki and along with salt-pickled sea urchin roe and Konowata one of the three chinmi of Japan . It is made by desalinating salt pickled mullet roe and drying it by the sunlight.
Myeongran jeot (명란젓) refers to the jeotgal
seafood) made with pollock
roe seasoned with chili pepper
powders. It is commonly consumed as banchan
, small dish accompanied with cooked rice or ingredient for altang (알탕), a kind of jjigae (Korean stew). Mentaiko
in Japanese cuisine was derived from Myeongran jeot.
All around the Mediterranean, botargo is an esteemed specialty made of the cured roe pouch of flathead mullet, tuna, or swordfish; it is called bottarga (Italian), poutargue or boutargue (French), botarga (Spanish), batarekh (Arabic) or avgotaraho (Greek αυγοτάραχο).
) roe is used extensively in Danish cuisine
, on top of halved or sliced hard-boiled eggs, on top of mounds of shrimp
, or in combination with other fish
or seafood. Another commonly eaten roe is that from the cod
Tarama is salted and cured carp roe used to make taramosalata, a Greek and Turkish meze consisting of tarama mixed with lemon juice, bread crumbs, onions, and olive oil; it is eaten as a dip.
Avgotaraho (αυγοτάραχο) or botargo is the prepared roe of the flathead mullet.
is the salted and dried roe pouch of the flathead mullet
, used as a topping and for dressing pasta.
is most commonly made from cod
, but caviar made from lumpsucker
roe is also available.
In some areas it is also common to fry the roe from freshly-caught fish, to be eaten on bread or with potatoes and flatbread.
and especially Vendace
from the fresh water lakes in Finland are renown for the excellent delicate taste of the roe
. Roe is served as topping of toast or on top a blini with onion and smetana.
Smoked and salted cod roe paste, commonly served as sandwich topping is very popular in Sweden. The most famous brand being Kalles kaviar.
Roe consumed within the UK is generally soft roe
as opposed to hard roe. Though not extremely popular, herring roe is sold within many British supermarkets. Battered cod roe can also be bought within many fish and chip shops. Various tinned roes are on sale in supermarkets e.g. soft cod roes, pressed cod roes and herring roes.
In North America, several kinds of roe are produced: salmon from the Pacific coast, shad and herring species like the American shad and alewife, mullet, and historically some species of sturgeon for caviar.
Shad roe is the only one which is widely consumed, usually pan-fried, often with bacon.