Easy Japanese Recipes

Mentaiko Pasta | Spicy Cod Roe Pasta 明太子パスタ

Mentaiko Pasta Recipe | JustOneCookbook.com If you know what Mentaiko Pasta (Spicy Cod Roe Pasta) is, were you surprised when you first saw the photo?  WHAT?  Udon noodles instead of spaghetti?  That’s how I felt when I went to my favorite Japanese restaurant Ginji and ordered their Mentaiko Carbonara (their version of Mentaiko Pasta).  Very unique, right?

Let me step back and explain about this dish in case you are not familiar with this Japanese-Italian fusion pasta.  I learned that it’s actually pretty popular in some Asian countries but otherwise, either you will have to find a modern Japanese restaurant or you have to fly to Japan to taste this pasta.  In short words, it’s not so common served in typical Japanese restaurants around the world.

So let’s begin by talking about the main ingredient.  Mentaiko (明太子) is chili-spiced salted roe of pollock or cod and it is usually used as a filling for Onigiri (rice ball).  You can find mentaiko in either refrigerated or frozen section of Japanese supermarkets.  Typical Mentaiko Pasta is spaghetti tossed with mentaiko, butter and sometimes cream.  It’s really a quick meal that only requires 15 minutes of preparation time.

Ginji, my favorite restaurant I mentioned earlier, adds squid to this pasta, and oh my that is a brilliant idea!  I had never seen Mentaiko Pasta with squid in it before, but it really gives additional complexities to the dish with different texture and flavor.  And the result was absolutely delicious.  I was making my Mentaiko Pasta without squid but now it’s a must have ingredient.

You might wonder if you can skip Japanese mayonnaise (a common brand is Kewpie Mayonnaise); however, I really think this is another must have ingredient.  I know some of you might have a hard time finding Japanese mayonnaise, but try finding it at a Chinese/Asian markets.  They usually carry Japanese mayonnaise (at least around where I live).

I hope you will enjoy this quick and delicious meal!

Please note that I did not use colored mentaiko because I want to avoid artificial coloring; therefore, my mentaiko pasta looks less pink/orange.  Also, the spicy level of mentaiko varies depends on mentaiko brand so adjust the spiciness with shichimi Togarashi (Japanese 7-flavor chili pepper) based on your preference. 

Mentaiko Pasta | Just One Cookbook.com

Mentaiko Pasta Recipe | Spicy Cod Roe Pasta Recipe
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: Serves 2
  • 1.76 oz (50 g) karashi mentaiko (spicy salted pollock roe or cod roe)*
  • 1 Tbsp. Japanese mayonnaise**
  • ¼ cup (4 Tbsp) heavy cream
  • 1 tsp. soy sauce – sorry I forgot to add in the picture below
  • 2 packages of udon (I like sanuki udon) ***
  • ½ onion
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter (you can use salted butter, but you may not need to add salt later)
  • 4 oz (114 g) pre-sliced squid
  • 2 Tbsp. sake
  • Sea salt to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 10 shiso leaves (perilla) (optional)
  • Kizami nori (shredded nori), or cut nori sheet into thin strips
  • Shichimi togarashi (optional)

  1. Make a slit through each sac membrane of the mentaiko lengthwise and scrape out the spicy roe with knife (or spoon). Discard the sac membrane.
  2. In a large bowl combine mentaiko and Japanese mayonnaise.
  3. Add heavy cream and soy sauce.
  4. Start boiling water to cook udon. Once water boils, cook udon according to the package. Frozen udon is pre-cooked so you just need to make sure udon is loose and hot. Drain well.
  5. While you wait for udon to cook, finely dice the onion.
  6. Melt the butter in a frying pan and add the onion.
  7. When the onion is soft, add the squid and cook until it changes color.
  8. Add the sake and sauté until alcohol is evaporated.
  9. Add the onion and squid mixture into the mentaiko sauce. Mix well.
  10. Add cooked udon and toss well until the udon is evenly coated with the sauce. Adjust the taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  11. Julienne shiso leaves and garnish the pasta with nori and shiso leaves.
  12. Sprinkle shichimi togarashi if you like it to be spicy.
I did not use colored mentaiko, so my mentaiko pasta looks less pink/orange.

* Please use Japanese mayonnaise. The taste of other mayonnaise is not the same.

*** Sanuki Udon has more al dente texture and different from typical pre-cooked udon in package. It does not break easily compared to typical udon and it’s more elastic and it has square shape. The texture is more similar to pasta. If you cannot find Sanuki Udon, please use spaghetti or your favorite pasta.


Mentaiko Pasta | Just One Cookbook.com


Posted in: 30 Minutes Or Less, Easy Dinner Ideas, Noodles & Pasta, One Dish Meals, Quick & Easy, Seafood

Leave a Comment

9 + = fifteen

  • kat September 26, 2012, 12:48 am

    my husband’s favorite, mentaiko!

  • Orchidea September 26, 2012, 2:00 am

    It looks just delicious! So funny to see chopstick beside a pasta dish… but this is a Japanese-Italian pasta;).

  • Blackswan September 26, 2012, 2:37 am

    Nami, Mentaiko & Tarako are my fave & I did a pasta post sometime ago too. Fell in love with this dish when I was living in Japan. Wish I could make this more often, but they’re quite expensive in the supermarket :<

    Interesting to see this with udon. Love to have a bite right now! Oh, love your new subscription service which I've already signed up so I won't miss your posts.

  • hui September 26, 2012, 3:31 am

    mmm.. this looks so appetising! must be so so yummy ^^ we are lucky there are a few places serving mentaiko pasta (minus the squids) over here.. at a price, however ^^ do wish mentaiko was more affordable ^^

  • Choc Chip Uru September 26, 2012, 3:47 am

    Wow I love this pasta dish being oriental, such a cool fusion :D

    Choc Chip Uru

  • Baker Street September 26, 2012, 3:51 am

    That looks insanely delicious, Nami! Squid in pasta is indeed a very delicious idea.

  • Hotly Spiced September 26, 2012, 3:58 am

    I love udon noodles and I think they make a great ‘pasta’. What a great fusion dish, Nami xx

  • Kate September 26, 2012, 4:08 am

    Sounds delightful! I’m a big fan of any noodles especially when they look this fantastic. I’ll have to try this one soon.

  • PolaM September 26, 2012, 4:49 am

    This pasta must e amazing! I have to go hunt for mentaiko!!

  • Sylvia September 26, 2012, 5:01 am

    I’ve never heard of this dish before so this is an eye opener for me. However, i love how udon is used instead of pasta and it makes it a proper fusion dish! :)

  • Lee G September 26, 2012, 5:04 am

    Hi Nami. I was a little surprised by the usage of Udon but it looks like it suits the sliced squid. I like mentaiko pasta. Thanks for sharing

  • Leanne @ Healthful Pursuit September 26, 2012, 5:16 am

    Wow, I’ve never heard of Japanese mayonnaise. Very intriguing.

  • Minnie@thelady8home September 26, 2012, 5:40 am

    Nami, one of these days, I am going to do three things:

    Hunt for a nearby Japanese store
    Make a long list of ingredients that you use here, (some of which I even have difficulty in pronouncing, even though I love the way they sound).
    Follow your recipes letter by letter.

    For now, I will go to the nearest Japanese restaurant and order mentaiko.

    When is your cookbook coming out again? I need to pre-order it.

  • Ramona September 26, 2012, 6:51 am

    Italian-Japanese fusion… how very cool!! I love the udon noodles too. :) Looks totally creamy and delicious. :)

  • Esther September 26, 2012, 6:57 am

    Gosh, if i hadnt had dinner, i would have immediately gone out to get the ingredients to make this! Nami, this is gonna keep playing in my mind until i make it LOL. I first heard about this a few months ago, and have been wanting to make it. Thanks for sharing this delicious recipe, now you know what we will be having for dinner this weekend :)

  • Extra Virgin Chef September 26, 2012, 7:09 am

    Hello there, I just made more mentaiko pasta today. Mine looks very different from yours! I will have to try your recipe some day! Thanks for sharing.

  • Helene Dsouza I Masala Herb September 26, 2012, 7:52 am

    I saw a group of japanese today and I had to think of u. ^.^

    About the pasta…

    maybe it should be called jewel pasta, since it is rather rare to get it served in a restaurant. At least i know about its existence now, so I can show off to some folks here. hehe

    Now whats that shichimi togarashi?
    I need to get hold of this. Maybe i can grow it in my garden?

  • Balvinder September 26, 2012, 8:10 am

    Creamier pasta dish with seaweed! I find it delicious because of mayo. ketchup and mayo are two condiments that I love like kids do.

  • A_Boleyn September 26, 2012, 8:11 am

    Thank you, Nami, for exposing me to another unique part of Japanese cuisine that I’ve never heard of. I don’t see myself making it in the near future (pollock or cod roe are probably as scarce as hen’s teeth, I imagine) but I’m sure I’ll get some ideas of ways in which to adapt the dish to something more manageable.

  • Nazneen|Coffee and Crumpets September 26, 2012, 8:18 am

    This is why I love your site, you learn something new everyday …or every time you post. I has never heard of this dish and even though I am not a seafood fan, this sounds like a great fusion dish.

    I really need to get organised and visit my Asian store and get cooking with your recipes.


  • Eri September 26, 2012, 8:34 am

    This is so interesting Nami, I will try to find this salted fish and make this dish, it is really easy! I find the idea of adding squid or other seafood great too!

  • Laura (Tutti Dolci) September 26, 2012, 9:09 am

    Beautiful, Nami! I love your pasta bowl.

  • Linda @ My Foodgasm Journal September 26, 2012, 9:40 am

    My hubby and I love Japanese food so much. This is such a delicious recipe and i love how they/ you use udon vs. spaghetti. So yum!

  • Stephanie September 26, 2012, 9:51 am

    This looks delicious! I like the whole using udon part. ^_^

  • The Café Sucré Farine September 26, 2012, 10:19 am

    You always have something so interesting, Nami! I feel like I always get an culinary education when I come to your blog!

  • bakerbynature September 26, 2012, 10:42 am

    Oh I love pasta! This looks amazing, Nami!

  • Evelyne@cheapethniceatz September 26, 2012, 10:43 am

    Never heard of this dish and quite a fusion dish indeed. Sounds interesting for sure.

  • mjskit September 26, 2012, 10:55 am

    Nami, you have introduced me to some of the most unique and interesting dishes! I thought I knew Japanese food before I started following you. WRONG! I didn’t know anything about Japanese cuisine. So thank you! This is such an unusual dish for me and it sounds like something that this household would love!

  • Rosa September 26, 2012, 12:20 pm

    That is an interesting dish! I am really intrigued as I have never had cod roe… I bet your mentaiko pasta tastes wonderful.



  • yummychunklet September 26, 2012, 1:08 pm

    This is the second cod dish I’ve seen today. This looks delicious.

  • Sharon | Chinese Soup Pot September 26, 2012, 1:09 pm

    As much as I love Japanese food and have frequented many Japanese restaurants in the Bay Area, I don’t think I have ever seen this fusion pasta dish before. But I am glad that you are sharing the recipe to this uncommon dish. It looks really yummy!

  • Adora's Box September 26, 2012, 1:34 pm

    This is new to me but it is so my type of thing. I love anything with roe of some kind. It sounds so delicious!

  • MaryMoh September 26, 2012, 1:57 pm

    That looks very unique and delicious. I don’t think I can find the Japanese ingredients here. Going to the Chinese supermarket here can be very frustrating :(

  • Liz September 26, 2012, 5:00 pm

    I think I better just show up at your doorstep so I can try this unique and delicious pasta! You make it all look so easy, Nami! I promise to bring dessert :)

  • Mi Vida en un Dulce September 26, 2012, 5:16 pm

    I never imagine using mentaiko in food recipes. Let me explain, we eat mentaiko but fried, we just put some flour and fry in very hot oil. That is the unique way I saw it, but it’s great to know I can use in another way…!!!

  • Kankana September 26, 2012, 5:34 pm

    Very nice! This is absolutely new to me. And I have no idea how much I would like it but the picture is tempting me to dig in!

  • Belinda @zomppa September 26, 2012, 6:26 pm

    This is a marriage made in heaven!! What a combination!

  • Kiran @ KiranTarun.com September 26, 2012, 6:47 pm

    I’ve never had mentaiko before — this looks so delish, Nami :)

  • Sammie September 26, 2012, 6:53 pm

    omg Nami I LOOOOOOOVE this dish! I always order it at Japanese restaurants whenever I see it!! So delicious! Thanks for sharing this Nami! i gotta make it soon!! :D

  • Jenn and Seth September 26, 2012, 6:59 pm

    next time we hit the japanese market we are totally getting the stuff to make this, this looks fantastic!

  • Eha September 26, 2012, 7:15 pm

    An abolutely delightful recipe I hope to try soon. Living some 80-100 km from the closest Japanese store may just have a little difficulty in accessing some of the ingredients. On the other hand, the wonderful spice mix shichimi togarishi came onto our spice store lists over a decade ago [any Oz readers, try Herbies to begin with!]: I seem to use it in all kinds of fusion cooking! Oh that dish does look appetizing :) !

  • kitchenriffs September 26, 2012, 7:37 pm

    Really interesting dish. Looks wonderful, and I’m intrigued by the idea of Japanese mayonnaise. I’m pretty sure I know where to pick some up. Fun recipe – thanks.

  • Kristy September 26, 2012, 8:19 pm

    You know I just love udon Nami! This looks delicious. I know I’ve never had, and don’t think I’ve ever seen, a Japanese/Italian fusion dish. This is totally intriguing. I’m a huge sucker for pasta…can eat it all day every day if I could! I have a feeling I’d really enjoy this dish. :)

  • tigerfish September 26, 2012, 9:57 pm

    To find and taste this Mentaiko Pasta – (1) find a modern Japanese restaurant or (2) fly to Japan …or maybe (3) visit Nami if you are in the Bay Area :P

    I do not know there are different types of pre-cooked udon….hmmm….Sanuki Udon is new to me. I hope this word “Sanuki” is indicated on the package if not I won’t be able to find it even if I visit a Japanese grocery store. I really like that you take a snapshot of all the ingredients and products. :)

  • Angel September 26, 2012, 11:11 pm

    yum~ creamy and salty! mentaiko is such a delicacy!

  • Andrea September 26, 2012, 11:26 pm

    Nami, another dish I had never heard of before – Italian-Japanese fusion is also something that is new to me and it does sound and look so very intriguing!

  • Hester @ Alchemy in the Kitchen September 27, 2012, 2:34 am

    Love the garnish on this unusual pasta, Nami. “Carbonara” has never sounded so appealing. Yum!

  • Asmita September 27, 2012, 5:28 am

    I would love to taste this Japanese pasta. Fusion food at it’s best.

  • Sanjeeta kk September 27, 2012, 5:41 am

    This is the first time I am hearing something called..Mentaiko..you are always so creative in preenting fusion dishes, Nami!

  • Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella September 27, 2012, 6:14 am

    I didn’t know that the pink mentaiko was coloured-I love how I always learn new things when I read your blog Nami! :D

  • Ashley Bee September 27, 2012, 6:37 am

    I love trying new and interesting dishes! I would order this at a restaurant, but I might not be brave enough to try making my own yet.

  • Tina (PinayInTexas) September 27, 2012, 6:58 am

    Haven’t tried this before, but it sure looks so good, Nami!

  • Sonia aka Nasi Lemak Lover September 27, 2012, 7:21 am

    I have never try this pasta before, one day I must try out if go to Japanese restaurant again.

  • claire @ the realistic nutritionist September 27, 2012, 8:46 am

    Oh my gosh this looks absolutely decadent, Nami! I have to make it.

  • Carolyn Jung September 27, 2012, 10:22 am

    Oooh, this looks absolutely rich and delicious. It’s like a riff on an Italian dish. Love the Japanese sensibilities.

  • Priscilla@ShesCookin September 27, 2012, 11:13 am

    So many interesting things in this post – will have to try mentaiko and Kewpie mayonnaise :) Mixing the squid in with udon and topping with shiso and togarashi sounds better than plain alfredo sauce to me!

  • Katerina September 27, 2012, 12:08 pm

    Nami this dish looks so good and so different from what I am used to. Unfortunately I don’t think I can find many of the ingredients you give for this recipe here in Greece, so i just admire it from your pics!

  • Sandra September 27, 2012, 2:50 pm

    Your step by step pictures are so great Nami. I absolutely love coming over here and learning about your cuisine. Now I just have to get my hiney in gear and start making it.

  • Lisa H. September 27, 2012, 7:39 pm

    Looks like I am heading out to the kitchen again after this… you are making me hungry (just had breakfast ;))
    My daughter who loves pasta and Japanese food would definitely loves this Italian-Japanese fusion :)

  • Sandra's Easy Cooking September 27, 2012, 8:04 pm

    Oh this sounds heavenly, Nami! I never tried mentaiko but I am imagining the flavor of the dish just by your description. I love that you paired it with sanuki udon…mouthful of goodness!

  • Hannah September 27, 2012, 9:27 pm

    Wow, I’ve never heard of this and I’m very intrigued! We have a terrific Asian market here, so I’m sure I can get all the ingredients. We don’t eat squid, though, so could I substitute another fish? Thanks for sharing!

  • Alyssa September 27, 2012, 10:09 pm

    Wow, what a creative dish! I’ve never seen this before but it makes perfect sense!

  • Sissi September 28, 2012, 3:31 am

    Gorgeous! I tasted onigiri with spicy mentaiko for the first time in my life a couple of days ago and loved it! I was wondering how they make the mentaiko taste so spicy and I see it’s the shichimi togarashi! I love the squid idea too (I love squid everywhere!), so your pasta is already bookmarked.
    Do you think I could try making it with cod roe sold here not spiced, but only salted, and then spice it up on my own?

    • Nami September 28, 2012, 11:02 pm

      Sissi, I’m not sure if the salted cod roe there are processed/prepared the same way, but if it is, why not? I’m not fully sure how karashi mentaiko is made, but I assume you can add shichimi or ichimi togarashi to spice it up. :)

  • The Squishy Monster September 28, 2012, 8:24 am

    What an exciting dish! I could really eat 2 bowls of this right now =D

  • Food Jaunts September 28, 2012, 12:58 pm

    I love Kewpie mayonnaise (although I think the doll on it is creepy). Never heard of this dish – but I’d definitely give it a shot, it looks like a great mix of ingredients and perfect for a weeknight.

  • Charles September 28, 2012, 2:44 pm

    This looks absolutely wonderful, and I promise I’m not just saying that because it has mayonnaise (omg yes!) in it :D. I think I can imagine the flavour… is it maybe a bit like tarama, with udon, but more creamy and saucy? I’d love it, I just know it, but where to find mentaiko…? :( I think the chances of getting it here are slim to none!

  • Lynna September 29, 2012, 9:07 pm

    This looks amazing! I`ve never heard of ths dish before.

    Also, I love Japanese mayo! I use Kewpie instead of regular mayo when I make sandwiches. LOL

  • Chung-Ah | Damn Delicious September 30, 2012, 12:18 am

    Japanese mayo was one of my favorite things growing up! It’s been a while since I had it but I definitely need to get some of this so I can make this awesome pasta dish!

  • Raymund September 30, 2012, 12:59 am

    All I can do is stare on this one as I am highly allergic to cod but I will still give this a shot as it looks so yummy I just need some antihistamine on the side

  • Nancy/SpicieFoodie September 30, 2012, 2:13 pm

    I love fusion foods, specially one as unique as this. Thanks for yet again educating and introducing me to a new Japanese dish. Looks delicious!

  • Jean (Lemons and Anchovies) September 30, 2012, 2:44 pm

    I had heard that there is a Japanese dish that uses roe, just like Sardinian spaghetti con bottarga which I absolutely love. This must be it. Would love to try it sometime. I don’t mind the use of udon noodles at all. Now I have another thing to look for on my next visit to Nijiya.

    BTW, I’ve been meaning to ask you where you get your boneless pork belly? The Asian markets in Daly City and Foster City don’t have it. I ended up with side pork which I don’t know is a decent substitute.

    • Nami October 1, 2012, 10:58 am

      How interesting! I didn’t know about that Italian dish using mullet roe for pasta. We do eat mullet roe (we call it Karasumi) but not in pasta. After blogging, I start to notice and learn a lot of similar ingredients in Italian and Japanese cuisines.

      Boneless pork belly is in Nijiya too. I usually buy several blocks of pork belly from there on the 29th (it’s 20% off every 29th). Whole Foods have frozen one too. You have to order one if it’s at Piazza in San Mateo. :)

  • Elizabeth @Mango_Queen October 1, 2012, 7:39 am

    This is delicious! I must try this new recipe of yours, Nami. We enjoy pasta dishes and this will be a great addition to our menu. Thanks for sharing!

  • Patty October 1, 2012, 5:25 pm

    I can imagine the salty spicy flavors of cod roe in your pasta-it looks delicious;-)
    Please pass the squid;-)

  • Jen Laceda | Tartine and Apron Strings October 2, 2012, 9:30 pm

    So rich and decadent! I haven’t tasted this kind of pasta, but one day, when I’m feeling brave and adventurous, this is going to be in my must-try list. I admit, I’m a little intimidated with using roe in carbonara. I love my traditional bacon, hehe. But live to try new things…!

  • Jenny @ Ichigo Shortcake October 6, 2012, 5:47 am

    Yayyyy you wrote your mentaiko pasta recipe!! I will so go out and get that pack of mentaiko I saw at the grocery store. :) It was one of the most delicious pastas I’ve tried when I was in Japan…so creamy and so good. :D

  • ChopinandMysaucepan October 7, 2012, 3:33 am

    Dear Nami,

    I think fish roe adds so much flavour and complexity to a dish, this is a like adding bottarga to pasta except you have also used udon which is something different. I love udon style noodles in northern Chinese stir-fries too.

  • Shirley October 7, 2012, 12:29 pm

    I’ve never heard of mentaiko, but this looks wonderfully creamy! I just boiled up some udon for lunch, but it was sadly plain compared to this.

  • vivala-b.bird October 30, 2012, 9:38 pm

    Hi Nami,

    I made your recipe tonight and it was incredibly delicious! I have never had mentaiko pasta with squid before and I couldnt believe how well it turned out despite forgetting to add the sake.
    My brother in law is vegetarian so I mixed the mayo with the soy sauce and cream, set some aside before adding the mentaiko. Same with the butter and onions before adding the squid. I was worried that the dish wont have enough flavour for him, but he said it was delicious!
    Thank you! (I also made Gomaae to go with the pasta and it was to die for!)

    • Nami November 1, 2012, 9:20 am

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it and how wonderful that you made vegetarian version at the same time for your brother-in-law! I’m really happy to hear you made two of my dishes on the same day! :D Yay! Sake is for removing fishy smell from squid, so if it wasn’t bothering, that’s okay to omit. Thank you so much for taking your time to give me feedback and I really appreciate it! :)

  • piggy October 2, 2013, 3:07 pm

    Hi Nami, do I need to wash the mentaiko before cutting it?


    • Nami October 2, 2013, 8:20 pm

      Hi Piggy! No, you do not need to wash it. :) Hope you enjoy this dish!

  • Hyok Kim August 7, 2014, 8:16 am

    Thanks for the recipe. I became a recent convert to mentaiko pasta. Your version looks like the most refined version of all the recipes available.

    • Nami August 7, 2014, 12:39 pm

      Hi Hyok! I’m so happy to hear you like Mentaiko Pasta! Whether you use original spaghetti or udon noodles, I hope you enjoy this dish! :)