Fish Eggs on Sushi – What Are Different Sushi Fish Roe Called?

Published Categorized as Journal, Ingredients

You may have noticed fish eggs on sushi, but you may or may not have known what they were. Fish eggs on sushi (or roe) can take on a variety of forms, and they often look different depending on where they come from. So, what exactly is roe and what are the different types? I’ll answer that and more in today’s post!

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Fish Eggs On Sushi – What Are Different Sushi Fish Roe Called?

What Are Those Eggs on Sushi?

Remember that the varying types of small fish eggs on sushi may look different, but they all come from certain fish species. The eggs on sushi are used as a cooking ingredient in fine cuisine.

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What Are the Eggs That Go on Sushi?

Apart from the fish eggs on sushi we’re discussing below, there are also other eggs that can be found in sushi that play an equally delicious role in a unique and flavorful sushi-eating experience.

Take tamago nigiri sushi for example. It doesn’t usually contain fish eggs, but instead, it features a thin crepe-like egg that is rolled omelet-style and placed atop a bed of sushi rice. Tamago nigiri sushi doesn’t generally feature very many ingredients, but it is very delicious nonetheless.

In addition, you can find many of the fish eggs discussed in this post on sushi as well. While not often found on tamago nigiri sushi, they are often found in your traditional sushi roll, platter, or dish. As mentioned, these tend to take on a variety of colors

What Are the Eggs That Go on Sushi?

The fish eggs that go on sushi are indeed real fish eggs. These are often referred to as fish roe.

Fish roe tends to have a salty taste and crunchy texture. They can be found atop sushi dishes such as sushi rolls. They vary in appearance and also vary in type. In the upcoming segments, I will describe fish roe and the different types available depending on the fish species.

Are the Fish Eggs on Sushi Real?

Yes, fish eggs on sushi rolls are real fish eggs!

They are fully ripe eggs that are often found in the ovaries of certain marine animals. Sometimes the fish eggs are collected from external egg masses released from the animal. Marine animals from which the eggs are collected include squid, scallops, shrimp, and sea urchins.

What Are Fish Eggs Called In Sushi?

Remember that fish eggs on sushi are often referred to as roe. The roe are typically unfertilized eggs that are fully ripened. They take on a variety of textures, flavors, and colors. They can also vary in shape and size.

The following are many of the most common types of fish roe available:

  • Sturgeon caviar
  • Ikura
  • Tobiko
  • Pollock Roe
  • Whitefish caviar
  • Uni
  • Herring Eggs
  • Trout Caviar
  • Masago

What Are the Different Types of Fish Eggs?

There are many different types of eggs you may find on sushi. Let’s go over the most common types of fish eggs on sushi and where they often come from.

They include the following:

Masago (Smelt Roe)

Masago is a type of fish roe that comes from smelt. This smelt roe is common in Japanese cuisine and is often mistaken as tobiko flying fish roe. However, tobiko tends to be crunchier than masago and more expensive to boot. It is often for this reason that restaurants opt to use masago over tobiko, especially since the differences between the two aren’t immediately noticeable.

Note also that masago tends to not only have less crunch, but also a slightly more bitter flavor than tobiko. For this reason, one well-versed in fish roe may pick up on these subtle differences. However, since roe is mostly used for decoration, many aren’t likely to notice much of a difference at all.

Ikura (Salmon Roe)

Ikura, or salmon eggs, are a very popular type of roe. These eggs are bright orange in color, but unlike masago and tobiko flying fish roe, they aren’t crunchy.

Instead, you’ll find these naturally red orange eggs to be squishy types of fish roe. They are often described as “gooey” and can burst on your tongue with a single bite. These are often salty and sweet, though they aren’t as expensive as your traditional sought-after sturgeon caviar.

Tobiko (Flying Fish Roe)

Tobiko comes from the flying fish species. They are very small fish eggs, that resemble masago in many ways. It is noticeably crunchy with a mildly sweet, smokey, and salty flavor. They can often be found wrapped in such in the form of an avocado half or cucumber cup. They can also be dyed variety of colors, including black, yellow, and red.

But don’t worry. This “dye” occurs using natural ingredients by utilizing yuzu to color it yellow, squid ink for black tobiko, and so on.

Uni (Sea Urchin Roe)

Uni is harvested from sea urchins, and thus, is sea urchin roe. Unlike the others, uni has a very thick texture and is buttery in taste. They are cut and processed by hand, and often eaten raw. They are also sometimes purred and made into sauce.

Either way, these orange-yellow fish eggs with a bumpy surface can be found on sushi rolls and on other types of Japanese cuisine, such as pasta or in butter.

Caviar (Sturgeon Roe)

As the name would imply, sturgeon caviar comes from the sturgeon species. These salted unfertilized eggs are what you typically hear referred to simply as “caviar”. They are considered the epitome of luxury when it comes to fine cuisine. Unlike many of the other caviar types, this fish’s roe can be black or gold, with the gold variety being among the most rare.

Whitefish Caviar

Unlike sturgeon caviar – which is often described as tasting like salt ocean water – whitefish caviar tends to have a light crisp taste. It is bright in appearance (bright orange-yellow) and of course, comes from whitefish.

Trout Caviar

Trout eggs are very similar to Ikura in both texture and appearance. They originate from the female fish trout. These bright orange roe are slightly firm and offer a satisfying pop once entering your mouth.

Like Ikura, they are much bigger than your traditional tobiko or masago roe, and thus, can be that much more visually appealing and satisfying to eat.

Herring Eggs

Herring roe, or kazunoko, is particularly special in Japanese cuisine. It comes from herring female fish is known to be used on festive dishes every Japanese New Year.

Capelin Roe

Capelin roe is a type of masago roe. It comes from capelin fish which is of the smelt family. As a result, capelin roe is like any other masago roe in that it is very small and is the typical orange red color you’d expect.

Pollock Roe

Pollock roe is a member of the cod family, and thus could be considered cod roe. These are often used in dishes in Japanese culture such as Tarako and mentaiko. However, they aren’t always found in sushi the way that other roe types are.

Also, unlike other types of fish roe, pollock roe tends to be encased in a membrane and can be described as chewy. The roe can be eaten raw and the skin is also edible.

Fish Eggs On Sushi – What Are Different Sushi Fish Roe Called?

What Is the Orange Stuff on Sushi Rolls?

In most cases, the “orange stuff” you’ll encounter on sushi rolls are eggs. But they aren’t just any eggs. They are fish eggs that are referred to as “roe”. As we’ve explored, there are many types of fish eggs you may find on sushi rolls. These eggs are fully ripe but they are unfertilized and can take on a variety of textures.

Remember that there are several types of orange eggs on sushi you can encounter. Though roe and caviar can take on a variety of colors, flavors, and textures, the orange types are most commonly tobiko, masago, or ikura roe.

Are the Orange Balls on Sushi Fish Eggs?

They are! Orange balls on sushi may look like regular garnish at first, but in fact, they are edible fish eggs. These orange balls have a flavor all their own, and depending on the type, the texture and flavor may vary.

Remember that ikura, masago, and tobiko are normally orange.

There are other kinds of fish eggs, or caviar, that you may find on your sushi as well. They can range in color from black to red, to yellow, and even gold. The types of fish roe that complement a sushi roll can vary, so if you’re super curious, try asking the person, store, or restaurant selling it what type it is.

What Is the Crunchy Stuff on Sushi?

That depends on the part of sushi you are talking about. Depending on the type of sushi you’re eating, there may be various crunchy attributes to the sushi that can’t be contributed to one specific thing.

For example, some sushi rolls are covered in breadcrumbs. The breadcrumbs often resemble a toasty brown or tan hue and are usually featured on the exterior of the sushi.

On the other hand, some types of sushi may contain crunchy onions or tempura flakes. In this case, the crunchy texture you’re experiencing will have to do with these ingredients or a blend of these ingredients with the breadcrumbs.

Lastly, as you may have guessed by now, the crunchy “stuff” on your sushi rolls could very well be fish eggs. Though some types of fish eggs have a soft and gooey texture, many of them, especially the smaller orange varieties, are crunchy. Thus, it could be that you are eating colorful flying fish roe, or another fish roe that is giving you both a satisfying crunch and a salty taste.

What Are Black Fish Eggs Are on Sushi?

Black fish eggs on sushi can be a variety of fish roe types. Most commonly, black eggs are sturgeon caviar, but this isn’t always the case.

As previously mentioned, some types of caviar are colored using natural ingredients. In this case, you could be eating any type of roe that is simply dyed black. But in most cases, roe that is naturally black may be black lumpfish caviar or your typical–yet expensive–black sturgeon caviar.

fish eggs on sushi

How Do They Get Eggs for Sushi?

How eggs are obtained for sushi will vary depending on the type of roe or caviar used. While I won’t detail the process of harvesting for every type of roe out there, this post will mention a few of the most popular.

How Is Roe Harvested and Made Into Caviar?

There are several ways in which fish roe can be harvested and made into caviar. Let’s take a look at a few types of marine animals and the way in which their roe is harvested.


The harvesting of Japanese flying fish roe isn’t very difficult. Thankfully, the natural behavior of flying fish lends itself to easy harvesting. Female flying fish go about laying eggs on seaweed. Experienced harvesters then take advantage of these deposits by gathering them after the mother has dropped them. In many instances, the harvesters set out their own seaweed to encourage the mother fish to drop their eggs. This is a simple, easy, and noninvasive process by which colorful flying fish roe is harvested.

Ikura Salmon Roe

Ikura, or roe from salmon, can often be harvested in a variety of ways. One of the most common ways is to simply remove the fish eggs via a c-section-like procedure. By making an incision, harvesters can extrapolate the eggs and the salmon will survive.

In other instances, however, the salmon may be killed. This is especially a popular practice when the salmon is harvested in the wild. The deceased salmon is then usually sold in the market as meat to ensure that the carcass does not go to waste.

Sturgeon Caviar

Female sturgeon fish are usually killed for the traditional caviar harvesting process. This is usually done by rendering the fish unconscious in cool water before swiftly killing her and removing her eggs. Doing it this way ensures the freshness of the sturgeon eggs.

Having said that, there are other methods for harvesting sturgeon eggs as well. New technology has made it possible to remove sturgeon eggs without cutting or killing this fish. The process basically massages the eggs out from the female sturgeon. The downside to this is that it may change the consistency and overall freshness of the caviar.


Known for their bright red orange color, masago fish eggs are also collected using the natural behavior of this fish type. Much like flying fish, the capelin will lay eggs in their natural surroundings which are then later harvested and used as smelt roe.

Fish Eggs On Sushi – What Are Different Sushi Fish Roe Called?

Are All Fish Roe Caviar?

That’s a good question! Technically, there is only one true caviar, and that’s sturgeon caviar. This is an expensive roe usually consumed as a luxurious delicacy. Other “caviar” types are typically referred to as roe, though all roes, including caviar, are essentially just fish eggs.

Fish Eggs on Sushi: So Many Types, Tastes, and Textures!

All in all, fish eggs on sushi can be a surprisingly delicious treat. Whether you already knew what those crunchy orange balls on your sushi were, or are just finding out, know that these delicious little delicacies are fish roe that has a variety of benefits for your health and taste buds!

Remember also that although many types of roe are small and orange colored, this won’t always be the case. Both tobiko and masago will favor one another in terms of looks and colors, but other types of fish roe won’t. Sturgeon caviar will have a dark or black hue, while other types of roe may take on a golden or close to yellow hue. Either way, know that you’ll likely find whatever roe you eat to be delicious; especially when combined with all of the other delectable ingredients that typically make up a yummy sushi roll.

I hope this has helped you understand more about fish eggs on sushi! See you next time! 


Are the fish eggs on sushi caviar?

Technically, yes. In many cases, “caviar” specifically refers to sturgeon laid roe, while the remaining types of fish eggs are referred to simply as roe.

Is it real caviar on sushi?

Yes, it is. However, the “caviar” you may be thinking of is sturgeon laid. If that’s the case, then only some types of caviar will contain traditional sturgeon fish eggs. On your typical, everyday sushi, you may be eating normal fish roe, which are fish eggs of other types of marine animals.

What is fish roe made of?

Fish roe are fish eggs. They sometimes contain natural coloring, However, this isn’t always the case.

Is roe and caviar the same thing?

Kind of. Essentially caviar refers to sturgeon fish eggs while fish roe can refer to any type of fish egg. Know that sometimes the word” caviar” is also applied to other fish eggs, although this isn’t generally regarded as being technically “correct”.

Are fish eggs dyed?

Some fish eggs can be dyed. Usually, this is done by natural means using natural ingredients.

What Is fish egg sushi called?

There is no singular name for sushi that contains fish eggs.

By Anna

Anna Brooks, the voice behind, is a seasoned writer and editor with an insatiable love for food. While not a professional chef, her culinary adventures and unique insights have captivated readers for years. Anna believes in the transformative power of food, stating it "feeds the soul." Dive into her writings for a mix of inspiration, entertainment, and culinary wisdom. Author Pinterest Facebook Twitter Instagram YouTube Tumblr Reddit Quora

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