Mentaiko Pasta

Mentaiko Pasta

This is my husband's favorite pasta!

Mentaiko is marinated pollock or cod roe that you can find in Japanese or Korean markets. It originated in Korea, where it is known as myeong-ran-jut, and it was introduced to Japan in 1950's. Although essentially the same, there is a slight difference between Korean and Japanese version. Korean myeong-ran-jut tends to be much stronger in seasoning, while Japanese mentaiko is milder.

For the pasta, I'd recommend using the Japanese version since I like the very simple flavor of roe without other unnecessary seasoning. Mentaiko can be expensive, but it's not necessary to buy high quality mentaiko to make the pasta. I bought this for $5.99 at the local Japanese market, and it was delicious.

Ingredients for two servings:

  • 1/2 lb pasta (spaghetti)
  • 2-3 sacs of mentaiko
  • 1 tablespoon butter, softened
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sake or mirin
  • 1-2 tablespoon of heavy cream
  • some toasted nori (seaweed)
  • 1/4 cup radish, cut into matchstick (optional)
  • various other roes (optional)

This dish is so easy, the hardest part might be measuring out all the ingredients. First, Remove the roe from their sacs.

Cook the pasta in salted boiling water as instructed. Drain the pasta and put in a bowl.  Add butter and mix.

Continue to add evoo, soy sauce, and sake.  

Set aside 1/4 teaspoon mentaiko per serving to put on top later, and add the rest into the noodles.

I let it cool for a couple of minutes so the mentaiko doesn't cook in the hot noodles.  Add 1-2 tablespoons of cream to achieve desired consistency.

Plate and add the 1/4 teaspoon mentaiko you set aside on top, nori, and any other topping you might like. I add the radish since it adds refreshing flavor and texture to an otherwise rich dish, but it's optional if you don't have it. This addition is a personal preference and my own twist to this dish. A lot of people also add julienned shiso or some green onion for the same reason. I added various other roes since I had it in the refrigerator, but it's not necessary.

Dig in and enjoy! Japanese market also carries instant mentaiko pasta sauce that you can just mix into cooked pasta, and to be honest, it's pretty good. If you're curious, you can start by purchasing the instant version before you make your own.

My husband and I both love the rich, creamy seafood flavor in warm pasta, and I highly recommend you give this a try. This is the only pasta my husband requests again and again... hope you like it as much as he does. Enjoy!

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