Ikura Nigiri: Fish Eggs from Kanpai Sushi

Despite what the supermarket aisle may lead you to believe, there's more to an animal than neatly wrapped styrofoam trays of meat. From tongue to tail, offal (pronounced awful) encompasses all those taboo edibles that don't make the cut at your local grocer. Just Offal is here to explore these oft-neglected byproducts of butchering, featuring different offal meals from establishments across the valley. This week: Ikura Nigiri served up by Kanpai Sushi.

The Ick Factor: Ikura may be eggs, but they're nothing like your scrambled 'n' cheesy morning huevos. Unless you're a 'roided out Schwarzenegger wannabe pounding your protein (and courting salmonella) by slurping down raw eggs every morning.

Ikura are a sticky mass of salmon roe served completely in the raw atop all sorts of sushi delicacies. But instead of being cured and salted like caviar, these eggs have more in common with fish bait you might pull out of a tackle box than fine dining.

(bite into all the juicy details after the jump)

The Offal Choice: Ikura nigiri served up by Kanpai Sushi on Mill Avenue. Two masses of sushi topped with salmon roe and wrapped in nori to keep all those fishy pearls in one bite-size piece.

Tastes Just Like: Tiny little balls of saltwater that burst in your mouth like ripe grapes. The flavor of the roe was mildly reminiscent of salmon, but tasted briny like the ocean instead of like a fresh water stream. The sensation of twenty of these crisp eggs bursting in your mouth can be a bit off putting, and may be why roe is generally reserved as a garnish for sushi instead of the main event. The ikura were also a bit on the salty side, so go easy on the accompanying soy sauce.

The membranes surrounding the salmon eggs are also extremely sticky, and will adhere to just about anything you touch. But look on the bright side, if you're crap with chopsticks, those fish eggs practically help themselves into your open maw. A sure fire guarantee that you don't make a fool of yourself navigating from the plate to you mouth.

You Know It's Cooked Improperly When: These tiny little eggs are served completely in the raw, so you don't need to worry about any of them being improperly cooked. Instead, put the emphasis on freshness. Just because it comes from fish doesn't mean it should smell fishy.

Always been a DIY-er? Swing by Lee Lee's and pick up a mass of plump, sticky orange ikura, or a small jar of salmon roe caviar. Then whip up a batch of vinegary rice and bust out your sushi rolling mat. You'll be rolling ikura nigiri in no time!

Know of some offal that we just have to try? Let us know in the comment section.

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Erica O'Neil