Tobiko (とびこ) is the Japanese word for flying fish roe. It is most widely known for its use in creating certain types of sushi.[1]

Tobiko in varying colors, served as sushi

The eggs are large, ranging from 0.5 to 0.8 mm. For comparison, tobiko is larger than masago (capelin roe), but smaller than ikura (salmon roe). Natural tobiko has a red-orange color, a mild smoky or salty taste, and a crunchy texture.

Tobiko, shown in its natural color, topping grilled albacore tuna

Tobiko is sometimes colored to change its appearance: other natural ingredients are used to accomplish the change, such as squid ink to make it black, yuzu to make it pale orange (almost yellow), or even wasabi to make it green and spicy. A serving of tobiko can contain several pieces, each having a different color.[2]

When prepared as sashimi, it may be presented on avocado halves or wedges. Tobiko is used in the creation of many other Japanese dishes. Often, it is used as an ingredient in California rolls.

Frequently, masago (capelin or smelt roe) is substituted for tobiko, due to its similar appearance and flavor. The smaller size of the individual eggs is apparent to the experienced diner, however.


  1. ^ "Tobiko vs Masago Difference". Expert answer Question. 2016-11-16. Retrieved 2016-11-16.
  2. ^ "What Is Tobiko And What's Up With The Different Colors?". Food Republic. Retrieved 18 October 2014.