Tobiko is becoming increasinly popular with North American chefs - it is quite versatile, and adapts well to variations of Japanese and even American cuisine.
The very small, loose salted eggs, usually orange or pale yellow in color and with just a hint of brininess, are now available in a range of colors and flavors. Tobiko comes in pale green with a wasabi flavor and, in a deeper green variety, bites back with a jolt of jalapeno to add a kick to any dish you use it in.
These roes with a crunchy texture and a slightly sweet taste work well as garnishes for hors d’oeuvres, with sushi, and in many Japanese recipes. Tobiko sometimes is added to sauces and dressings to provide a touch of color and texture. Unlike sturgeon caviar, it does not change texture when sitting in a liquid emulsion -- even when heated.
At Tsunami in East Hampton, N.Y., for example, velvety wasabi mashed potatoes are given some added personality with a scattering of wasabi tobiko on top. At Oceana in Manhattan, oysters come topped with cucumber tartare and wasabi tobiko.
Tobiko is also a topping for goat cheese with a chilled crab cake at Meadowood in St. Helena, Calif., where it also garnishes crab cakes with mangos and avocado. Cafe M in Manhattan serves Kumomato oysters with a tobiko garnish.
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