Butter-fried Cod Milt and Angelica-tree Shoots with Citrus Segments


Japan has a very season-conscious culture, and this is certainly reflected in the foods that are listed on my weekly food co-op order sheet. Nothing beats eating the produce of the sea and the hills when they are in season. There are products that become available to me only at this time of the year (the border between winter and spring), and I pounce on them with the enthusiasm of a northerner who still has a month to go before the snow begins to melt, but whose heart is strengthened in knowing that early spring has reached the southern prefectures.

One such product is Shirako, the milt or sperm sac of certain fish– in this case, cod. I came to relish Shirako somewhat late in life, after I was able to put aside my initial squeamishness. I’ve just recently discovered a new way to serve it. As a co-star to the menu, I chose another food product that I adore, but can never get enough of, because its season is so short. This is tara-no-me, or the budding tips of the branches of the Japanese Angelica-tree. Tara-no-me is popular served as tempura, but I decided to saute it in the residual butter after frying the cod milt. Then I tossed the tara-no-me shoots with bits of fresh iyokan (my favorite citrus fruit, which is also in season right now) for their color and gently refreshing acidity.

Fresh or defrosted cod Shirako (also called Madachi)….. 100 grams
Fresh Tara-no-me …6-8 shoots, brown stem bark removed
1 Tablespoon flour mixed with 1 Tablespoon katakuriko (potato flour) OR 2 Tablespoons flour
Butter….2 Tablespoons
Salt, Pepper
Fresh, peeled citrus segments (iyokan, if you can get it), broken into to small pieces

1. Wrap the milt in some paper towels to draw out the excess fluid. Then sprinkle the milt with salt and pepper, and toss it gently in the flour/potato starch mixture.
2. Melt the butter in a pan, place the milt in the butter, cover and cook over medium heat for 2~3 minutes. When the bottom of the milt is golden brown, turn it over gently with a spatula and cook for 2~3 more minutes, or as long as it takes for the milt to cook through the middle without getting tough or dried out. Remove the milt to a dish.
3. Dust the tara-no-me shoots with a little salt and any remaining flour mixture, then saute them in whatever butter remains in the pan. If they are short, one minute should be enough. You don’t want them to become limp. Remove the shoots to a small bowl and toss with the broken citrus segments. Then place on dish next to the sauteed cod milt. The cod milt should be marvelously creamy with crispy edges, but no trace of remaining raw smell or taste. Makes enough for two small servings.

6 Responses to “Butter-fried Cod Milt and Angelica-tree Shoots with Citrus Segments”

  1. Debbie, This looks beautiful! The textures, the colors….. I doubt we can get milt?

  2. The texture of cod milt really is marvelous– makes it such a special eating experience. The season for it is short, but this year, for the first time ever, I found it in frozen form, which could mean there will be more chances to eat it. You may be able to find it where you are under other names. Wikipedia says its sometimes called “soft roe,” and other countries that use it for food have other names for it in their own languages. Tuna milt is used as pasta topping, apparently, in Sicilian cuisine. Oh, how I would like to try that!

  3. 3 sheri

    This looks so cool Debbie! I imagine it tastes divine.

  4. It does! It does! I’ve had cod milt served various ways, and this is my favorite. 🙂

  5. Lovely presents! Reminds me: red shad roe, new asparagus – award luncheon served in MD gov’s mansion by Eloise du Pont – typical spring meal. You’re chef too???

  6. Lol. I’m not a professional chef, no. Just love to cook. Thanks for the comment.

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