Devouring 4 Delicious Dishes In A ‘Roe’
When I’m in need of some refreshment, I don’t only go for the obvious ice-cold glass of lemonade or cool-and-creamy ice cream cone (though they are excellent choices, of course). Instead, ikura has become my foodie obsession of late because I just can’t get over that incredible pop of juicy, salty flavor that literally bursts out of each ball of salmon roe — a taste that is just as revitalizing as jumping into the ocean on a hot summer’s day.
We’re used to seeing these bright-as-canbe fish eggs on top of sushi or used as garnishes, but in true Ono, You Know fashion, on these pages you’ll find ikura gets all the attention it deserves for adding so much spunk to any ingredient it comes into contact with.
Another great reason to fall in love with salmon roe: It’s a potent source of omega-3 fatty acids. Why not be good to your body while feeding it tasty food?
A MATCH MADE IN HEAVEN
Every type of caviar has its own nuances, and those of salmon are reminiscent of the very fish they come from. It makes sense, then, to pair ikura with salmon, and taste how the two enhance one another in the culinary dimension.
At Café Lani Hawaii, you can do just that, all while enjoying a whole new world of salmon-roe delight. Smoked Salmon Salad with Ikura ($19.50), for one, is a wildly popular dish at the Ala Moana Center eatery that blends the rich, smoky flavor and buttery texture of smoked salmon with a light array of greens. I recommend mixing the ikura into the salad so you get a little bit in each bite, and enjoy it all with your choice of Japanese wasabi or balsamic dressings.
Chef Masayuki Ohara notes that a smaller breakfast portion of the salad is available for $15.75, but regardless of when you eat it, you’ll be offered all-you-can-eat bread on the side.
Ohara also encourages guests to try Roasted Salmon with Mashed Potatoes ($24.50), one of the most unique ways I’ve ever eaten ikura. The chef, who was trained in classic Italian cooking, takes the Italian concept of pairing cold garnishes with warm dishes — a la fresh tomatoes on top of warm pasta — and applies it to his salmon creation. The cool gush of ikura juices provide a lively contrast to the perfectly cooked salmon, which is accented with balsamic and creamy dill-tartar sauces.
“I also like to use ikura as an accent to the main ingredient because it is nice and salty,” Ohara adds.
If you’re up for more ikura dish, try Fedelini Cream Sauce with Salmon and Ikura ($21.50). It’s good to note that Café Lani just launched its summer menu as well, which will be available for the next three months. The selection boasts Fedelini Arrabiata with Conger Eel Set ($25), Spicy Chicken Cobb Salad Set ($25) and seasonal bread options like Pineapple Sun Bun and Cherry & Green Tea.
Ala Moana Center, Mall Level 2
1450 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu
One of the most pleasant ways to savor ikura is alongside a host of fresh sashimi in donburi. And when you want the seafood piled onto those rice bowls to be fresh and high-quality, you have to head to J-Shop on Young Street.
Though the store is a Japanese grocery made up of a supreme assortment of Nihon-sourced meat, seafood, produce and goods brought in by owner and veteran importer Hideyoshi Takasawa, J-Shop also is home to a bento corner where you can get made-to-order meals prepared mostly with Japanese products.
According to Takasawa, the seafood donburi offered at the lunch spot vary depending on what is fresh on the market, but one thing you can bet they’ll include is healthy heaps of ikura.
Be sure to ask the staffers what is available when you stop by — when Dining Out dropped in, chef Toru Mitake carefully crafted Negitoro Ikura Chirashi Don and Kaisen Oyako Don ($9.75 each).
These takeout meals are a treasure trove of seafood riches, with items ranging from local ahi to fine salmon, squid and more. And in both dishes, the ikura brings a punch of briny goodness to the delicate nature and smooth texture of the first-class sashimi accompaniments.
Though J-Shop is open until 7 p.m. daily (closed Sundays), be sure to get your donburi before 3 p.m., as the eatery usually sells out of its freshly made menu items around that time. And if you’re interested in purchasing some top-notch ikura from Japan, the shop currently has Hokkaido-sourced roe in stock. Its inventory changes with season and availability, so be sure to get it while supplies last.
1513 Young St., Honolulu