Japanese Seasoned Herring Roe (Kazunoko)


Hideki Ueha

Prep: 60 mins
Cook: 10 mins
Marinate: 72 hrs
Total: 73 hrs 10 mins
Servings: 4 to 6 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
48 Calories
2g Fat
2g Carbs
7g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 to 6
Amount per serving
Calories 48
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 2g 2%
Saturated Fat 0g 2%
Cholesterol 106mg 35%
Sodium 212mg 9%
Total Carbohydrate 2g 1%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Total Sugars 0g
Protein 7g
Vitamin C 5mg 25%
Calcium 31mg 2%
Iron 1mg 3%
Potassium 81mg 2%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Herring roe, or caviar, which is known as “kazunoko” in Japanese, is a delicacy that is served on January 1st to celebrate “oshogatsu” or New Year.

Kazunoko is considered a traditional Japanese New Year’s dish or "osechi ryori". As such, this dish, like other dishes served on oshogatsu, has valuable meaning attached to it. For example, eating kuromame, or simmered black soy beans, is fortuitous on oshogatsu, because the beans represent well-being and wishes for good health in the New Year. Similarly, kazunoko, or roe, represents fertility, eggs, and children. Eating kazunoko on Japanese New Year symbolizes the wish for many children or grandchildren in the year ahead.

This dish of herring roe is lightly seasoned with kelp (kombu) dashi, bonito (katsuo) dashi, and soy sauce (shoyu). There is no cooking involved, with the exception of mixing ingredients together and allowing the herring roe to marinate in the light dashi broth.

The only caveat of preparing this dish is that the membrane surrounding the caviar must be removed so that the flavors of the dashi can be absorbed. It is also removed for aesthetic purposes, given the dish is served on a special occasion, the presentation is important.

Other dishes that are enjoyed on Japanese New Year, or oshogatsu, include: black soy beans (kuromame), sushi, sashimi, and sweet red bean dessert soup (zenzai).


  • 6 kazunoko, or herring roe

  • 1 1/2 cups water

  • 1 teaspoon dried bonito dashi powder

  • 1 (3-by-3-inch) piece dried dashi kombu, or seasoned kelp

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Soak fresh kazunoko in cold water for two days, changing water once daily. Store in refrigerator. This removes salt from roe, as well as loosens membrane surrounding roe.

  3. Gently remove​ membrane from kazunoko pieces.

  4. In a small pot, soak dashi konbu in water for about 1 hour.

  5. Bring dashi konbu and water to a gentle boil. Add dried bonito dashi and soy sauce and simmer for about 10 minutes.

  6. Allow cooked broth to cool. Discard dashi konbu.

  7. Gently break apart kazunoko into bite-sized pieces using hands. Do not cut.

  8. Place pieces of kazunoko into dashi broth and place in refrigerator 1 to 2 nights while roe absorbs the flavor of the dashi.