March 3, 2011

Japanify: Ikura Shoyu Zuke (Marinated Salmon Roe)

by yoko


Go to any sushi restaurant in Japan and notice that “ikura” or salmon roe, is either written in katakana or hiragana. I was curious as to why it was often written in katakana–the alphabet designated to loanwords. I asked the master at Sushi Danran about this curiosity. He told me that “ikura” イクラ comes from the Russian language. The Russian word for “caviar” is “ikra” hence, “ikura” in Japanese. Salmon roe is prevalent in Russia–so much so that they have salmon roe flavored Lay’s! Hit me up.

Last week, my fish monger had some beautiful sacs of salmon roe in his display. I snatched up 1/4 lb at $13.99/lb.


It comes in a membrane sac that holds together all the eggs. This sac must be removed, and the eggs marinated to resemble the ikura that is served in your sushi.

Ikura Shoyu Marinade

1/4 lb. fresh salmon roe (sujiko)
3 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp sake


1. Place sujiko in warm water and break the eggs away from the sac. The eggs are delicate so be careful when separating them from the membrane sack.


2. Once they are broken apart, rinse them through a colander with cold water.


3. Combine soy sauce and sake in a small saucepan and bring the mixture to a boil. Wait until the mixture cools down.

4. Place the ikura in a air-tight food storage container. Pour the liquid mixture over it.


5. Seal the lid on the container and place it in the refrigerator. Wait for a half day before eating.


Приятного аппетита! (Prijatnovo appetita)





  • Posted March 3, 2011 at 11:26 am

    Wow, I didn’t know about the etymology of ‘ikura’. How interesting! And I didn’t realise that you tsukeru the ikura either. Beautiful photos Yoko:)

  • yoko
    Posted March 3, 2011 at 7:54 pm

    Thanks, I love my new D3100. Yeah, ikura would always stand out to me on sushi menus because it would be amongst a sea of kanji.

  • Posted March 3, 2011 at 10:55 pm

    I need that inside me. My mouth that is.

  • yoko
    Posted March 3, 2011 at 10:57 pm

    Craig – I hope you can get sujiko where you are.

  • Posted March 3, 2011 at 11:32 pm


  • Sarah Nevada
    Posted March 8, 2011 at 11:04 am

    this is so amazing! now I’m starving for fish eggs at 8 am.

  • worm
    Posted March 11, 2011 at 3:06 am

    So, I tried your recipe but it took me like, 2 hours or something to get all the nasty membrane off of the eggs. And a lot of them popped. I think that the water that they are soaked in has to be quite hot in order for them to “firm up” for rough handling. So if anyone tries this at home, I suggest using hot (some recipes suggested 100 deg) water. The eggs will turn opaque but then will become transparent again once they are cured in the shoyu or salt.

  • yoko
    Posted March 11, 2011 at 3:32 pm

    Thanks for the clarification. It worked okay for me with tepid water though.

  • seri
    Posted April 26, 2011 at 7:59 pm

    Worm – I made mine w/ the sac and it came off easily after marinating. That might be worth trying? I grew up eating it w/ the sac, so it wasn’t a big deal with it on, too.

    Yoko – do you dump the marinade and rinse after the day of soaking? Mine were perfect after a day of marinating, but after day two, it was too salty. I dumped out the marinade and did a quick rinse w/ water. Did you have to do that? Maybe I have to eat it faster…

  • seri
    Posted April 26, 2011 at 8:02 pm

    ps – thanks for this, Yoko! I had given up on eating seasoned sujiko in the states until this.

  • Posted May 29, 2011 at 10:06 pm

    I absolutely love ikura and have been looking for a marinade recipe! ^-^ Thank you!

  • Mumin
    Posted October 18, 2011 at 12:44 am

    Wow- thank you for this information. I have been really craving ikura recently and have been paying quite a bit to eat it ready-made at home. It was quite fun (and gross) making it, but it was definitely worth it.

  • robert
    Posted July 15, 2012 at 4:34 am

    We in alaska have salmon roe in abundance. my uncle just left here from work with 15 pounds of copper river red salmon roe. I sent him the like to this page and he is making this as i type. 15 pounds is a small amount for us here. People usually throw this into the river after cleaning their fish.E-mail me if anyone is interested in some roe!!! i can send you pictures of fresh roe coming out of the belly of the fish as we clean them.

  • yoko
    Posted July 16, 2012 at 9:25 am

    Robert, That sounds like a dream! “People usually throw this into the river after cleaning their fish.” That BREAKS my heart! I want some roe! I would love to see some pictures of fresh roe coming out of the fish belly! Please send pictures to Please let me know how this recipe turns out for you guys. I also posted a recipe using salt here:

  • richard
    Posted August 16, 2012 at 7:21 pm

    i have a fishin cousin in cordova who shares generously but not ikura; 15 pounds omg; i think he throws it away; as an aside, anyone have ideas for sansho powders for fish or…; just got back from kyoto; what a grt spice

  • ROY
    Posted August 18, 2013 at 11:03 pm

    I shared the Japanify: Ikura Shoyu Zuke post and recipe with a friend who just returned from a fishing trip to Alaska. He returned with salmon roe and didn’t know what to do with it. I hope you’ll post the photos that Robert offered to share.

  • yoko
    Posted August 20, 2013 at 11:49 pm

    I never received the photos from Robert, although I am still very interested in seeing them. Thanks for sharing the recipe with your friend.

  • Dave
    Posted March 2, 2014 at 1:07 pm

    Excellent recipe. Much better then salted roe. I just made a batch from some fresh steelhead roe.

    Most people around here use the roe of salmon and steelhead for bait.

3 Trackbacks

Post a Comment

Your email is never shared. Required fields are marked *