Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Salmon Roe Story...from Sujiko to Ikura to Donabe Ikura-don

Ikura-don: Home-marinated Ikura over Donabe Sushi Rice

It's already the beginning of the season for "sujiko" (salmon roe in a sack). As female salmon lay eggs in the fall, there are a lot of very pregnant salmon out there. The other morning, I was so thrilled to find a case full of freshly-harvested "sujiko". So, I picked up a nice fatty sack.

I decided to make soy-marinated ikura!

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"Sujiko" to "Ikura" - First, I needed to take the individual salmon roe pieces of out the egg sack. Salmon roe in a egg sack is called, "sujiko", and when the roe is out of a sack, these individual egg pieces are called "ikura". This process requires a careful work. I found the metal grate, which comes with tagine-style donabe, "Fukkura-san", was perfect for this work! To get the "ikura" out of the sack, first, you find an open side of the sack and gently open it wider and push to the grate side. From one end, you gently push out the individual eggs by kind of rolling back and forth by hand. Make sure not to break the individual eggs. So, the patient gentle motion is very important.

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Once you get the "ikura"out of the egg sack, stir the "ikura" with a gentle amount of salt by hand until the salt turns orange, then rinse in warm water (105F - 120F/ 40C - 50C degrees). You repeat the process for 2-3 times. Do not just rinse the unsalted "ikura" in water, as the skin would become too firm. Drain well.

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Make the marinade sauce: In a small pan, combine the 1/4 cup (60 ml) sake and 2 tablespoons mirin, and boil once. Add 1/4 cup (60 ml) tamari soy sauce (or regular soy sauce is okay, too), and let the mixture cool down. The sauce is enough for 8 oz - 10 oz (240 g - 300 g) of "ikura" to marinade. Pour a couple of table spoons of the sauce over the "ikura". Stir and drain once. Then, combine the ikura and the remaining sauce in a container. Let the "ikura" marinade in refrigerator for 30 minutes. Drain.

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That's it! Beautifully shiny soy-marinated "ikura" ("ikura no shoyu-zuke") is ready! It's great on its own  to pair with sake.

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Or, you can make "Ikura-don" (salmon roe over rice) of my favorite way to eat "ikura"! I prepared Ikura-don with sushi rice (seasoned with Kyoto-style "awase-zu"), made with my double-lid donabe rice cooker, "Kamado-san". Once I made the sushi rice, I sprinkled some ground roasted sesame seeds, and covered the rice with generous amount of soy-marinated "ikura". Then, it was garnished with some thinly-sliced white bottom part of Tokyo negi (Japanese green onion), thinly-sliced shiso leaves, and wasabi paste. (You can find the sushi rice recipe in one of my previous posts here...but, this time, edamame was not added to the rice.)

My super happy donabe rice moment.

Happy donabe life.