Capelin caviar profile

Capelin roe is naturally light orange in color, but it is mostly sold colored and flavored. Capelin caviar is highly rated in Japanese cuisine as a topping for sushi, hand rolls or as garnish to seafood dishes and in salad dressings. Traditionally in Japan, capelin caviar is called Masago; however in the United States it is marketed as Tobikko or Tobico, to resemble more traditional flying fish roe. Since capelin roe is very similar to flying fish in size and texture (the beads are slightly smaller and less transparent) it is commonly used as its less expensive substitute.

The flavor profiles and colors of Tobikko Capelin Caviar are the same as of Flying fish:

  • Orange (natural color of capelin roe) - Mild smoky, salty flavor
  • Yellow (usually yuzu is used) - Spicy ginger flavor
  • Green (mixed with wasabi) - Mildly spicy wasabi flavor
  • Red - Flavored with chili pepper
  • Black (squid ink) - Slightly sweet and salty flavor

Suggested use: Tobikko Capelin caviar is usually sold to Asian and Japanese restaurants as a substitute for flying fish roe. It implies the same use as flying fish would. Its strongest selling point is its more economical price.

Indulging in caviar does not have to mean shelling out enormous sums of money for a small treat. You can enjoy a high-quality sea product rich in omega-3 fatty acids, sea minerals, and all the wholesome vitamins for a more affordable price. There are plenty of fish species in the world's oceans that have delicious roe which can be used as a part of an everyday diet or a cost-effective substitution to the expensive Sturgeon caviar. One of these fish is the Capelin, a small fish from the North Atlantic ocean that is a source of one of the world's most popular Sturgeon caviar substitutions – Capelin caviar.

Capelin roe, once a largely overlooked product, has reached international popularity in recent decades as part of the wide-ranging search for substitutes to black Sturgeon caviar due to the latter product's diminishing supply and skyrocketing procies.

Capelin caviar

The tiny beads of the Capelin roe have a firm envelope with a satisfying crunch, though it is still softer than Flying Fish roe, a common rival of Capelin. The small eggs release a briny juice, filling your mouth with light sea flavor. The natural color of this roe is orange, but it is usually naturally dyed in a wide variety of colors, the most popular of which are:

  • Red Capelin caviar
  • Black Capelin caviar

Thanks to its low price, black capelin caviar is a great and – a non-negligible feature at the moment – a sustainable alternative to Sturgeon caviar. It is very popular among catering companies for supplying big cocktail parties as an affordable substitution for black caviar to garnish hors d'oeuvre. Fashionable restaurants and cafes use it to add some sea flavor to their culinary masterpieces, including cold and hot salads, pasta, risotto, sauces, omelets, and even mashed potatoes. The possible uses of this versatile product are limited only by the chef's imagination.

The biggest consumer of Capelin caviar are Japanese restaurants and sushi-bars, as Capelin roe is an essential ingredient in many varieties of sushi. The Japanese name for this product is Masago. Usually, the Capelin roe is cheaper than Flying Fish roe (Tobiko), so there is no reason to stint in topping sushi rolls with this attractive roe.

About the Capelin

The fish species Capelin (Mallotus villosus) is a member of the smelt family and is one of the most important foraging fish species in the Atlantic and Arctic oceans. The cold waters are filled in abundance with Capelins, which are a significant source of food for many fish species, sea mammals, and birds, especially during their Spring spawning season, when they go South to spawn in the shallow waters of the fjords. It is an essential food source for the Atlantic Cod. Capelin is also a well-appreciated fish in Scandinavian cuisine.

These fish have a short maturation period. After three to four years females are ready to spawn, and they can spawn several times over the source of their lives, if they survive between the spawning periods. Males are not that lucky, and many of them die after the end of spawning.

The Capelin is not a big fish. The males reach the length of 20cm and the females grow up to 25cm. They have an elongated body with an olive-colored upper part and silver scales on their sides and belly.