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Difference Between Ikura And Tobiko

The eggs of fish and some other marine animals are collectively known as roe. 

Fish roe is a delicacy in some parts of the world, where they are used in either cooked or raw dishes.  

They are particularly popular in Japanese cuisine where they are used to garnish dishes such as sushi and sashimi.

There are different types of fish roe and in Japanese cuisine, ikura and tobiko are among the most popular. 

Ikura is salmon roe while tobiko is the roe from flying fish. Both are reddish orange in color and translucent

It could be hard to tell them apart, however, if you place them side to side, or take a bite from each one, you will notice some differences. 

In the post, we look at both ikura and tobiko, and highlight how to distinguish them.

Tobiko vs ikura

Ikura is larger in size compared to tobiko. This fish roe is about 3.5mm, while tobiko is under 1 millimeter in diameter. 

Both fish eggs are cured in brine which gives them a salty taste although tobiko has a little more sweetness than ikura.

Tobiko also has a firmer texture than ikura.

What is ikura?

Ikura means salmon roe in Japanese  

It is particularly popular in Japan where it can be found in many traditional Japanese delicacies. 

Ikura has a diameter of about 3.5mm, and its reddish-orange color is due to specific pigment compounds.

The eggs are cured in brine which gives them a salty taste. The curing of the salmon roe also helps to preserve them 

Soy sauce and sake are also used for curing ikura. 

In Japanese cuisine, ikura is served either by itself or as part of another dish. It is often used as a garnish on different types of sushi. 

This fish roe could also be eaten with noodles, and it makes a pop sound when chewed into.

Ikura is high in healthy fats and vitamins, it also contains good levels of protein.

What is tobiko?

Tobiko is the name of the roe from the flying fish species. 

It has a bright orange in color, although it can be seasoned with a variety of food colorings which gives this fish roe a different appearance.

Tobiko could be colored black with squid ink, red with chili pepper, and the light green version is flavored with Wasabi. 

These eggs are small, they are about under 1 millimeter in diameter or less.

Traditionally, it salt-cured and has salty taste. Tobiko is also slightly sweeter than other types of roe including ikura. 

Tobiko has a crunchy texture and when bitten into, a popping sound is heard.

The eggs are harvested from the female fish and salt cured after harvesting to them preserve them.

Tobiko is enjoyed with sushi and a variety of other dishes including sashimi.

It could be used as a topping to improve the appearance and texture of these dishes.

Tobiko is low in calories, it is rich in protein and omega-3 fatty acids. It is also very high in cholesterol. 


Tobiko and ikura are commonly used in sushi restaurants where they are sprinkled over sushi.

They are used as garnishes to improve the appearance and also the texture of foods.

These fish eggs are rich in nutrients, including minerals such as magnesium, vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids. 

Ikura and tobiko are usually salt cured which gives them a salty flavor profile. They are also quite high in sodium and should be used sparingly.