If you are a big fan of sushi, then tobiko with quail egg, also known as quail egg sushi, is something you have to try. It is sushi on an entirely new level. A quail egg yolk nestled atop tobiko is a remarkable sight, truly like nothing you’ve ever had before.

Quail egg sushi is definitely one of my favorite types of sushi. Once while working in Japan, I went into this sushi eat-out which was barely a hole in the wall and ordered inari sushi. The chef suggested, then insisted, I try out the quail egg sushi. Initially I was a bit skeptical about the idea because I felt she was just trying to promote it.

I tried it anyway, and it was quite the experience. The feeling of the raw egg yolk popping open, along with the slight crunch of all the flying fish roe — it all created possibly the most unique food experience I’d ever had.

This type of sushi is not really very popular among sushi lovers (except for hardcore sushi lovers) because of how special and strange it is, but the special and strange is why we try new things, right? I’m sure if more sushi fans tried tobiko with quail egg, it would become the next hot new thing.

That, at least, is the outcome that I am trying to achieve with this article. Read on to find out more about quail egg sushi. Sit back, relax — I am about take you on a journey to find out all there is to know about quail egg sushi.

What is quail egg sushi?

Quail egg sushi otherwise known as tobiko with a quail egg is a type of Japanese sushi that consists of quail egg yolk in combination with tobiko (flying fish roe) and other ingredients.

This sushi consists of rice wrapped all around by carefully cut out thin strips of nori. This is done in such a way that a hole tends to be in the middle like a cup. The hole in the middle is usually filled with tobiko after which the quail egg yolk is then placed on top of the tobiko.

Note that the yolk is usually very slippery, so one must ensure that the rice and nori combination should be constructed carefully so that the height of the nori is slightly above that of the sushi rice so it can support both the tobiko and quail egg yolk.

It may interest you to know that this sushi is also very nutritious.

Sushi isn’t a fattening food and it’s quite low in calories, with the rice bringing in some carbohydrates. It’s also quite rich in fiber due to the seaweed. The quail egg is rich in proteins and vitamins which are, of course, very good for the body. The yolk has a high level of cholesterol and saturated fats, so you might want to be careful of that.

As for the origin of this sushi, there isn’t much to say about it aside from the fact that it originated in the 1820s to 1830s or around the same time the nigiri style of sushi became popular in Tokyo. I’m not sure who discovered the genius idea of adding quail egg to sushi or the restaurant where it was first tried out, but there have been statements made by some individuals claiming that they discovered this sushi.

Raw quail egg sushi also comes in three different forms, which include the quail egg nigiri, quail egg gunkanmaki and quail egg temarizushi.

Quail egg nigiri or nigirizushi, otherwise known as hand-pressed sushi, is an oblong mound sushi made by compressing the sushi rice in between the palms to form a sort of oval-shaped ball. On most occasions, it can be served with a small amount of wasabi. The sushi rice is bounded with strips of nori and topped with the yolk of the quail egg.

The quail egg gunkanmaki, otherwise known as warship roll sushi, is also oval-shaped, made by a hand-formed mold of sushi rice that has a segment of nori folded over its edge to form a hole loaded with delicate, slippery ingredients that require the support of the nori. It is then topped with the quail egg yolk.

It is said that Gunkanmaki was concocted at the Ginza Kyubey eatery in 1941. Its creation did nothing less than increase the list of possible delicate toppings utilized in sushi by one. The gunkanmaki also happens to be a very popular quail egg sushi compared to the others. The quail egg temarizushi, commonly known as ball sushi, is made by squeezing rice and fish into a ball-molded structure by hand, utilizing a cling wrap.

Note: For those that don’t know what tobiko is, it is flying fish roe (small fish eggs) found in many types of sushi. They are usually very small in size, ranging from red to orange, bearing a mild smoky and salty taste and a very crunchy texture.

Quail egg sushi recipe

You read right; I have attempted quail egg sushi, and I couldn’t be more pleased with how it came out. To prepare quail egg sushi you will need the following quail egg sushi ingredients:

  • 1½ cups of sushi rice
  • 1 nori sheet
  • 4 fresh quail eggs
  • 4 oz of Tobiko


  1. Make nori strips by cutting the sheet into thirds.
  2. Create a sort of bed for the ingredients using a sizable amount of sushi rice. Once this is done, roll the bed into a cylindrical shape about 1.7 inches high and 2.7 inches long.
  3. After completing step two, carefully wrap the nori strip around the rice making a fine cup shape, fill the cup with tobiko to slightly below the rim of the nori sheet.
  4. For the final step, simply crack the quail egg on top of the already arranged tobiko and enjoy the amazing taste of quail egg sushi.

For the sushi rice, you will need the following ingredients: 5 cups of short-grain sushi rice, 4 cups of water or more, ½ cup of rice vinegar, 2 tbs of sugar and 1 tsp of salt. To prepare, wash the rice with clean water. Over medium heat, place a pot with some quantity of water in it and bring to a boil before pouring in your washed rice.

While the cooking is going on, pour the rice vinegar in a bowl, add the sugar and salt then mix thoroughly. Pour the mixture into the boiling rice and allow to cook for 20-25 minutes. Turn off the heat when all form of water has dried up in the rice.

Note: most people usually just take the egg yolk and place it on top of the tobiko, maybe to avoid the slippery texture of the egg white. Some others like myself will just use the whole egg. Either way, the taste, and texture remain the same because once the egg is broken you won’t even notice the egg white.

So, if you are one of those that prefer only the yolk of the egg, simply use your hand or a spoon to remove the egg yolk from the white and carefully place on top of the tobiko.

Interesting facts about eating the quail egg sushi

  • The quail egg nigiri should be eaten upside down – The quail egg nigiri is best enjoyed by turning it upside such that the yolk touches the tongue first before the rest of the sushi. The nigiri sushi should also be eaten with hands rather than chopsticks to enable you to keep the sushi together and rotate it easily.
  • Nori has some disgusting origins – Nori, which happens to be the seaweed used in wrapping the sushi, was at some point removed from undersides of boats. It was then pressed, and spread on nylon sheets, then dried in the sun for hours. Nowadays, nori is cultivated and farmed. Although western brands prefer to toast nori for safety purposes, many Japanese brands don’t really pay too much attention to that and still want to protect their fishy taste.
  • It is said that when consuming the quail egg sushi, one should be mindful of its texture rather than the taste, which has a mild flavor and umami taste all in one bite.


If you’re a fan of sushi, the quail egg sushi is a type you should definitely try out. The above is more than enough information to bring you closer to this strange little oddity in Japanese cuisine. Give quail egg sushi a try and let me know what you think!


Peter's path through the culinary world has taken a number of unexpected turns. After starting out as a waiter at the age of 16, he was inspired to go to culinary school and learn the tricks of the trade. As he delved deeper, however, his career took a sudden turn when a family friend needed someone to help manage his business. Peter now scratches his culinary itch on the internet by blogging, sharing recipes, and socializing with food enthusiasts worldwide.

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