Ikura. This cured salmon roe while a tedious and somewhat lengthy process, is worth every glorious bead of glistening sunshine it produces.
Like so many things that are unassumingly extravagant, Ikura preparing seems daunting but really is quite uncomplicated. The other evening, I filleted two hens just brimming with roe and I knew it was time for this somewhat traditional treat.
To prepare Ikura, the roe must first be separated from the skein and rinsed prior to being brined with sea salt. The easiest way separate the roe from the skein without damaging the fragile roe is to place it one skein at a time, into a bowl of as hot of water as you can stand to have your hands immersed into. This will slightly toughen the roe’s shell if you will. In the water carefully tease and roll the roe off the skein. In this process the roe will turn milky in color but fear not this is normal and will reverse during the brine.
Once you have all roe removed from the skien, rinse gently in cold water and drain with a thin mesh strainer. Place roe into a clean bowl, add a scant tablespoon of sea salt per skein and very carefully stir. The eggs will begin to revert to their bright clear orange almost immediately. Let brine for 30 minutes in the refrigerator, stir again and taste. If roe is too salty for your liking you may rinse it gently with cold water, or you may add more salt depending on your palette. Return roe to chill for an additional 30 minutes and prepare to serve.
I neglected to photographically document my own endeavor, but A Fish Out of Water did a lovely step by step post a few years back that is worth checking out.
After the Ikura was cured for the full hour, I added in some very finely minced garlic, chopped green onions and some wasabi paste – all to taste and served atop cream cheese schemer’d crackers. It is also delectable wrapped in Nori.
Ikura is best stored cold, in airtight containers and eaten as freshly as possible.