Japanese Steamed Salmon and Roe

This dish is like the whimsically named oyaku, (or mother-and-child)—usually made with chicken and egg on rice—except the parent in this recipe is salmon and the child is roe (fish eggs—caviar, that is).
I couldn’t find the salmon roe anywhere, so I substituted catelin roe (sometimes called masago) which is often used on California rolls and other sushi. My salmon fillets were very tender because I forgot to take them out of the freezer so was forced to thaw them in a pot of water, still sealed in their plastic. This is not the best way to thaw frozen fish. As a result, I steamed the dishes with un-browned fillets as Mr. Tsuji describes in his recipe.
On to more positive innovations I made in this meal! We have literally hundreds and hundreds of gingko nuts. They added an interesting texture and color to each dish. Mr. Tess works hard and five-and one-third-ounces of salmon is not a big meal. I added a nice big shrimp to each serving. And who doesn’t like shrimp! The last change I made was to line each bowl with rainbow chard—one of his favorite vegetables.
I’ll make this recipe again, but put the daikon and roe mixture on the bottom. As you can see in the top picture, the shrimp, salmon, greens, and gingko nuts look to elegant to hide.

Steamed Salmon and Roe
Sake no Oyako-mushi

adapted from Japanese Cooking
A Simple Art
by Shizuo Tsuji
page 378
serves 4 to 6
  • 1 pound boneless skinless salmon
  • oil
  • ½ bunch of rainbow chard, cleaned
  • 4 large pretty shrimp, shelled
  • 20 gingko nuts
  • 4 Tablespoons salmon roe (I used capelin roe)
  • 2 Tablespoons saké
  • 1 cup grated daikon
  • ½ egg white, lightly beaten
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges


  • 1 cup dashi
  • 2 Tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 Tablespoons mirin
  • 2 Tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons corn starch mixed with 2 teaspoons water

If you are using thawed frozen salmon, rinse and dry it. Sprinkle a little salt over it and allow it to sit for a few minutes to draw out excess water. Pat dry. Mr. Tsuji has the cook fry the fillets in a little oil, about 3 minutes total cooking time. But my fillets were very thin and I was afraid they’d just fall apart. So I proceeded with raw fish, cutting the fillets into large bite-sized pieces.
Line 4 oven-proof dishes with clean torn chard leaves, and lay the salmon on top.

Shell the gingko nuts, and simmer for a few minutes and slip off the inner skins.

Put a pretty shrimp in each dish. Put 4 gingko in each dish.

Grate the daikon into a bowl lined with a cheesecloth. Gather the corners of the cloth and twist to squeeze as much liquid as possible. Fuff the grated daikon, and mix it with the egg white.

Mix the roe with 2 Tablespoons of saké (to clean it?) and drain. Toss the roe with the radish with the roe.

Spoon the mixture over each dish.

Seal the dishes tightly with tinfoil or plastic wrap.

Place the bowls into bamboo steamer trays. Bring the water up to a full bowl and and steam for 7 minutes.

Make the sauce: Combine the dashi, soy sauce, mirin, and vinegar. Bring to a bowl and add the cornstarch slurry. Stir the sauce until thickened.

Remove the bowls from the steamer and uncover. Spoon the thickened sauce over the salmon and radish. Serve with lemon wedges on the side.

You can see in this picture that I poured on quite a bit of sauce—far too much because I ran out of it on only 3 bowls! Clearly I was not concentrating…
Also note that the omuboshi (pickled plum) on the rice was not harmonious. It is a very different sort of sour from the sour of lemons. Shredded nori and sesame seeds would have been a better choice…
It’s probably a good thing we like to eat everyday: it’s an opportunity to make this dish again.


14 thoughts on “Japanese Steamed Salmon and Roe

  1. :)

    Don’t know the flavour of Ginkgo nuts *writes down on shoppinglist for next visit to japanese store
    I was planning to make this dish soon too, love your “twist” to it.

    • They don’t have much flavor, but the texture is interesting. They are almost like soft gummy bears, but not sweet. They taste more like a bean than a nut. I’ve read that some people say they are bitter and that one should remove the little shoot inside the nut but I have not found it necessary with ours.

      Don’t buy canned gingko nuts! But you’ll probably find some sealed in plastic in the refrigerated section. See my comments on this post

      Here is how fresh gingko nuts look. I found some very expensive nuts in a Japanese grocery only once but didn’t buy them because they had signs of mold.

      Gingkos in Amsterdam

        • Then next fall you might look for fallen gingko nuts! Seeing the cars parked under the trees makes me wonder if all of the gingkos might be males which won’t produce fruit. But landscape planners do not always look far into the future. While the owners of those cars might find rotting fruit a bother (and smelly), you could find a treasure trove…

  2. I was surprised that the roe didn’t become overcooked! As I noted, I used (tiny) capelin roe because I couldn’t find (larger) salmon roe, and I worried that it would be over cooked. But it seems that the shredded daikon kept it well tempered: it still had the little “pops” one loves with fish eggs.

    Your question makes me wonder though if the daikon-roe mixture were placed at the bottom as I’d like to see for aesthetic reasons: would the roe get over-cooked? Does steaming cook from the bottom as a pot on a stove, or is the steam heat distributed more evenly around a dish? hmmm… The salmon was a little dry and overdone on the bottom.

  3. I would have not thought of sealing the ramekin steaming dishes at all inside the bamboo steamer. To my understanding, one shouldn’t seal it. The bamboo cover is enough over the boiling pot of water with steamer basket inside.

    In my thinking having the little dishes uncovered inside the pot with cover on top over whole steamer basket, allows the hot steam to circulate and cook the food all over to keep it from drying out at the bottom too much.

    I’ve made a number of steamed meat Chinese dishes which include: fish, beef, pork and chicken. All dishes do require some a tsp. of oil or less, wtih ginger root, onion and small jot of soy sauce for moisture. These are my mother’s home recipes…from the village. :) Soemtimes the steaming water bubbles into the dish: that’s ok. It provides naturally moisture to the dish. Makes a natural diluted dipping sauce that the meat sits in its own juices.

  4. Hi Jean,

    I agree, it makes sense to me as well that the ramikans should be uncovered for steaming, especially when useing a bamboo steamer. Metal steamers seem to drip liquid in which case a loose cloth on the lid would catch the excess dripping.

    That said, the first time I make a recipe from a book I try to follow the instructions as given. I’ve been sort of away from my blog for a while, and seeing your comment still unanswered made me remember how nice this recipe was.

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