Update 2023/9/10: I've posted a new definitive guide to making ikura from salmon roe along with a new video. I'm leaving this one up for those who prefer curing ikura in a dashi brine.
With spawning season in full swing, the salmon are packed to the gills with roe. If you're able to find a skein of salmon roe at your local seafood shop (or you happen to know someone that's going salmon fishing in Alaska), 5 minutes and a handful of ingredients is all it takes to turn that ugly sac of roe into a decadent bowl of ikura (salmon caviar)
Unlike the limp salty goop that that comes out of jars, homemade ikura caviar is truly sublime. The plump silken pearls of caviar glow like precious gemstones and are loaded with the savory taste of umami. Stick a spoonful in your mouth and each orb bursts with a satisfying pop, sending their rich, briny flavor flooding over your tongue in a wave of culinary bliss.
Serve it on blini's as a canapé, use it for making sushi, or just spoon it over a bowl of hot rice to make ikura don. I also like serving this red caviar along with salmon sashimi on a bowl of vinegared sushi rice or as a filling for temaki sushi rolls.
I've put together a little video to show you how to separate the delicate salmon roe from the skein and this technique should work with almost any salmon or trout roe. Just be sure to select a skein of roe with large mature pearls. Immature roe have weaker sacs which will break as you try and separate them from the skein.
- Make the brine by adding the dashi, soy sauce, sake, sugar and salt to a bowl and stirring until the salt and sugar are completely dissolved.
- Watch the video for instructions on separating the pearls of caviar from the skein.
- Rinse the caviar with cold water and then put it in a container with enough brine to cover it.
- The ikura will be ready to eat in 1 day.