Shirako vs. Tarako: Japanese Food Delicacies
I rarely see it in Oden (like Chikuwabu). But Shirako is a food at its best in the winter (around January to February), often used in soup dishes, including Nabemono (鍋物: hot pot).
But in the first place, what is Shirako (白子)? Further, how does it differ from Tarako (鱈子)?
Shirako (白子) vs. Tarako (鱈子)
Shirako (白子), known as milt in English, generally refers to edible fish testicles, and representatives include the ones from Pacific cod and the pufferfish Fugu.
As 白 is the Japanese Kanji character for white, Shirako has a whitish color. Although it looks like brains or intestines, its inside is creamy and delicious.
On the other hand, as its literal meaning (cod child) suggests, Tarako (鱈子) is cod roe/ovary, usually from Alaska pollock and salted.
As you know, salted Tarako roe pairs best with white rice, while we often use Shirako in soup dishes like Nabemono, miso soup, and Osumashi/Suimono.
Shirako also comes in the form of Tempura and Sushi, and many Japanese drinkers favor it as Otsumami (おつまみ: snacks and nibbles eaten with alcoholic beverages), blanched and eaten with Ponzu sauce.