Kazunoko (Herring Roe) for Osechi Ryori (Japanese New Years Cuisine)
My favorite osechi ryori, or Japanese New Year’s dish is kazunoko. It’s caviar made of herring roe, simply seasoned with dashi konbu (seasoned seaweed), katsuo dashi (bonito broth) and shoyu (soy sauce).
Kazunoko is typically found in Japanese supermarkets only at the end of the year, which is quite unfortunate because I wouldn’t mind eating this year round. I’m sure there must be other markets that sell this delectable caviar during the year but I haven’t come across it yet. Or perhaps I’m just not thinking about it mid-summer since we only usually eat this in January.
As a child, I was likely an odd one, given that, at the age of six my favorite oshogatsu (New Years) food was herring roe. I loved the crunchiness of the tiny little eggs and the saltiness of the kazunoko. At that age, I’m sure I didn’t realize I was gorging on fish eggs and simply accepted it as a Japanese food that I liked. I remember whenever I asked my Mom what it was, she would simply reply, “kazunoko”. Ok, maybe she didn’t want me to know they were fish eggs, lest I freak out and stop eating it. It was better for me not knowing what it was and simply enjoying it to the fullest.
I actually learned how to make kazunoko last year, but I never got around to creating a post for it. There’s some information regarding the significance of eating kazunoko on oshogatsu in my 2011 Oseshi Ryori blog post available here. In a nutshell, eating kazunoko symbolizes a wish for many grand children or children, in the New Year.
Kazunoko soaking in water to remove salt and loosen it’s exterior membrane.
This year my Mom got an extra pack of kazunoko for me to take home and make so that I could enjoy extra at home. However, it looks like my Dad’s been snacking on Mom’s kazunoko supply for tomorrow’s osechi ryori line-up so I’m bringing my secret stash to share with everyone.
Stay tuned next year for photos from our 2014 Japanese New Year’s celebration.
Happy New Year!
- Kazunoko (Herring roe)
- 1½ cup water
- 1 teaspoon dried dashi powder
- 1 piece dashi konbu (seasoned dashi seaweed) 3" x 3" piece
- 1½ teaspoon soy sauce
- Soak fresh kazunoko in cold water for two days, changing water once daily. Store in the refrigerator. This removes the salt from the roe, as well as to loosen the membrane surrounding the roe.
- Gently remove membrane from the kazunoko pieces. There is a very thin membrane you will notice after about one day of soaking the kazunoko in water.
- Store kazunoko in cool water.
- In a small pot, soak dashi konbu in water for about 1 hour.
- Bring dashi konbu and water to a gentle boil. Add dried bonito dashi and soy sauce and simmer for about 10 minutes.
- Allow the cooked broth to cool. Discard dashi konbu.
- Gently break apart kazunoko into bite-sized pieces using your hands. Do not cut.
- Place the pieces of kazunoko into the dashi broth and place in the refrigerator 1 to 2 nights while the roe absorbs the flavor of the dashi.