Exploring Masago in Sushi: 5 Benefits and 2 Drawbacks

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Are you a foodie who loves especially Asian dishes like Pho, Ramen, sushi, etc. but is health-conscious at the same time? But, what if health meets your love? Feeling surprised how is it possible? Yes, it’s possible with Masago sushi. Now, again startled to hear that, right? Might be thinking, what is this Masago in sushi? Then, let us explain to you everything about masago. So, let’s begin:

What Is Masago?

Masago, also known as smelt roe, are nothing but the capelin fish’s edible eggs. Such fish belong to the family of smelt & are regarded as forage fish, which means that they are a significant source of food for codfish, whales, seabirds & seal types of larger predators. It’s not that the capelin’s flesh is not edible.

But, still, the fishermen mostly sought to create other products like masago from the flesh of the capelins. Nearly eighty percent of capelin is utilized for producing fishmeal & oil products. The remaining twenty percent is utilized for producing masago. Female capelin, when full of eggs gives masago, before spawning.

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What Is Masago_
What Is Masago_

Many sushi rolls use masago (pale yellow but often dyed orange/green/red) as its ingredient for its mild flavor. Also, it is occasionally mixed with other ingredients such as wasabi, ginger, ink & squid. Other than masago sushi, there are many other dishes in which masago is used as an ingredient.

Comparison Among Masago & Tobiko

Masago/smelt roe are the capelin fish’s edible eggs. In contrast, tobiko is the flying fish’s roe/eggs. Though they look identical, there are some key differences between tobiko & masago. Tobiko is bigger than Masago & is more costly. This is why masago is a famous substitute for tobiko, particularly in sushi rolls.

Comparison Among Masago & Tobiko
Comparison Among Masago & Tobiko

Another distinction between them is that tobiko is commonly bright red, whereas Masago’s biological color is dull yellow. For visual interest, they are dyed. Furthermore, tobiko retains a better crunchy texture & outstanding quality than masago.

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Why Masago Is Considered Healthful? What Are Its Nutritional Facts?

Masago is considered very much healthful, mainly because of its low calories & high nutrient value.

1 ounce or 28 GMS of fish roe, from which masago is harvested, comprises 40 calories & 2 gms of fat. It also has 6 gms of protein, >1 gm of carbohydrates & 7 percent DV (Daily Value) of Vitamin C. Besides, 10 percent DV (Daily Value) of Vitamin E & 12 percent DV of Riboflavin B2 are also present in it. Furthermore, it is also a source of 47 percent DV of Vitamin B12 & 6 percent DV of Folate B9. Besides that, masago also contains 11 percent DV of Phosphorus & 16 percent DV of Selenium.

So, from the above, we can see that fish roe has a high percentage of the water-soluble Vitamin B12. Our body requires that, and we have to get that from various foods/supplements. It is because our body cannot produce such vitamins on its own.

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And, we know that Our body critically requires vitamin B12 for performing many functions like RBC development, nerve transmission, DNA synthesis, & cell development. So, you can understand how healthful is masago for our body.

Besides, masago has low carbohydrates & high protein & healthy fat content. Such healthy fats include omega-3 type fatty acids that are polyunsaturated type fats & help to regulate inflammation. Also, such fats are crucial for your heart’s proper functioning & also for the normal functioning of your hormones, lungs & immune system

In addition to that, another important nutrient that is available in masago is amino acids, which are present in high quantities in fish roe, and hence in masago. The amino acids existing in masago are valine, leucine, phenylalanine, histidine, isoleucine & lysine, all of which are the protein’s building blocks. Also, leucine & lysine helps in protein synthesis & muscle repair of your body.

10 Benefits (Upsides) of Masago

  1. It is a rich source of great-quality protein
  2. It is a biological source of Vitamin B12 and selenium
  3. Masago has a low mercury content
  4. It has a significant quantity of Omega-3 fatty acids
  5. Keeps your heart health good
  6. Keeps your eye health good
  7. Will reduce your arthritis symptoms
  8. Keeps your bone health good
  9. Will increase your muscle strength
  10. It will improve your blood pressure & also cholesterol

5 Downsides of Masago

  1. Capelin is an Endangered species of fish & hence, eating masago may lead to the extinct of this species in the future
  2. High sodium content in Masago
  3. Allergy-related risks
  4. The other ingredients commonly combined with masago, like MSG, high fructose syrup of corn, etc., are not suitable for our health. This is because, high fructose syrup of corn is linked to insulin resistance, inflammation & disrupted metabolism.
  5. Also, MSG consumption may lead to headaches, skin flushing & weakness.

In What Form Of Diet, Masago Be Added?

You may make use of Masago in a variety of ways. The semi-crunchy texture & salty flavor of masago give perfection to most Asian-inspired appetizers/dishes. Also, you can use the different flavors of Masago according to your taste need for various foods like ginger flavor, wasabi flavor & squid ink flavor.

So, you can add masago to a variety of dishes & that too in several ways. They are :

  • Homemade masago sushi (by adding some teaspoons of masago to sushi rolls)
  • Make a tasty appetizer by mixing a portion of masago, fruits & cheese on a plate
  • Masago-flavored rice dishes
  • Unique masago topping over poke bowls
  • Spread masago over Asian noodle dishes
  • Make a flavorful twisted recipe with top fish & masago
  • Flavored sushi rolls with a mixture of masago, wasabi & spicy mayonnaise.

#Note- Only a tiny quantity of masago is needed for flavoring food as it is high in salt.

How To Prepare Masago Sushi?

Ingredients required In Masago Sushi

  • 1 cup short-grain type sushi rice
  • 1 & 1/2 tbsp of sushi vinegar (optional)
  • Half a teaspoon of salt
  • 1 cup water
  • Half tbsp sugar
  • 4 oz imitation category of crab
  • 2 sheets of nori seaweed
  • Thin slices of an avocado
  • 1 tbsp masago

Process For Making Masago Sushi:

Process For Making Masago Sushi
Process For Making Masago Sushi
  • Rinse the rice & add it with water inside the rice cooker
  • After cooking, put the rice inside a large bowl. Now add salt, sugar & sushi vinegar to it.
  • Start making the rolls by starting the bamboo mat layout & putting on the top plastic wrap paper.
  • Fold the sheets of nori in half & using scissors, split them.
  • Put the half nori sheets over the bamboo
  • Spread the nori evenly over the cooked rice cup & using your hands, press them gently
  • The rice must face downwards while the nori upwards.
  • Put crab & slices of avocado over the nori
  • Place your thumbs underneath the bamboo mat & lift the edge & over the filling.
  • Roll away the bamboo mat from you & tighten it up by applying some pressure.
  • The roll must be placed over a cutting board, where each roll must be cut into 10 pieces.
  • Sprinkle the masago on each piece of sushi’s top.
  • Use your hands & flatten them out evenly.

Various Side Dishes That Goes Well With Masago Sushi

  • Surimono soup
  • Ohashi
  • Wakame salad
  • Edamame
  • Dango
  • Kani salad
  • Miso soup
  • Tsukemono (Pickles, made in Japan)
  • Tempura
  • Eggplant
  • Green tea
  • Gyoza
  • Tamagoyaki

Final Words

We hope we have answered all the questions regarding masago; that was a few minutes hovering over your mind. So, if you can withstand seafood & are not allergic to it & if you crave to relish a healthy, much more flavorful & less-calorie-based diet, then masago is an excellent selection. Just have any dish with masago in it & you will be addicted to consuming it again & again. After all, who can ignore the magic of its flavor?

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Masago Sushi

Q.1. What is masago in sushi?

Answer: Masago, also known as smelt roe, are nothing but the capelin fish’s edible eggs. Such fish belong to the family of smelt & are regarded as forage fish, which means that they are a significant source of food for codfish, whales, seabirds & seal types of larger predators. It’s not that the capelin’s flesh is not edible.

But, still, the fishermen mostly sought to create other products like masago from the flesh of the capelins. Many sushi rolls use masago (pale yellow but often dyed orange/green/red) as its ingredient for its mild flavor.

Q2. Is masago safe to eat?

Answer: Yes, masago is safe to eat if consumed moderately. Masago is considered very much healthful, particularly because of its low calories & high nutrient value.

1 ounce or 28 GMS of fish roe, from which masago is harvested, comprises 40 calories & 2 gms of fat. It also has 6 gms of protein, >1 gm of carbohydrates & 7 percent DV (Daily Value) of Vitamin C. Besides, 10 percent DV (Daily Value) of Vitamin E & 12 percent DV of Riboflavin B2 are also present in it. Furthermore, it is also a source of 47 percent DV of Vitamin B12 & 6 percent DV of Folate B9. Besides that, masago also contains 11 percent DV of Phosphorus & 16 percent DV of Selenium.

Q.3. Is masago a caviar?

Answer: No, if said technically, it is not caviar. Though both are fish roe eggs, they are from the fish’s different species. Only a sturgeon fish’s roe is called Cavier.

Q4. Is masago eaten raw?

Answer: Yes, masago can be eaten raw.

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Lucia Sterpone
Lucia Sterpone
Lucia Sterpone, a dedicated nutrition professional with a remarkable 8-year journey in promoting well-being through sound nutritional practices. Lucia specializes in providing expert nutrition counseling and education to individuals and groups. He has a passion for helping people improve their health through proper nutrition and lifestyle changes.

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