If you like classic Mentaiko Pasta (Spicy Cod Roe Pasta), you have to try this udon noodle version, Mentaiko Udon!
Let me step back and explain about Mentaiko Pasta in case you are not familiar with this Japanese-Italian fusion pasta.
Mentaiko Pasta is spaghetti tossed with mentaiko, butter and cream. 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.
Mentaiko (明太子) is chili-spiced salted roe of pollack 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.
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.
If you like calamari, I highly recommend adding it as it gives additional complexities to the dish with different textures and flavors.
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 market. They usually carry Japanese mayonnaise (at least around where I live).
I hope you will enjoy this quick and delicious meal! It only requires 15 minutes of preparation time! If you prefer classic Mentaiko Pasta (明太子パスタ), here’s the recipe.
Mentaiko Udon (Spicy Cod Roe Udon)
- 2 oz spicy salted pollack roe or cod roe (karashi mentaiko) (my mentaiko does not use food coloring, so my mentaiko pasta looks less pink/orange.)
- 1 Tbsp Japanese mayonnaise (Please use Japanese mayonnaise. The taste of other mayonnaise is not the same. Substitution, click here)
- ¼ cup heavy (whipping) cream (4 Tbsp)
- 1 tsp soy sauce (sorry I forgot to add in the picture below)
- 2 servings udon noodles (180 g dry udon noodles; 500 g frozen/boiled udon noodles)
- ½ onion
- 2 Tbsp unsalted butter (you can use salted butter, but you may not need to add salt later)
- 4 oz squid (pre-sliced)
- 2 Tbsp sake
- kosher/sea salt (I use Diamond Crystal; use half for table salt) (to taste)
- freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
- Gather all the ingredients. Bring a large pot of water to put frozen udon noodles (my favorite is the frozen Sanuki Udon; no need to defrost). Dried udon noodles take a long time to cook so start cooking first as you prep other ingredients.
- With a knife, make a slit through each sac membrane of the mentaiko lengthwise and scrape out the spicy roe (you can use a spoon, too). Discard the sac membrane.
- In a large bowl, combine mentaiko and Japanese mayonnaise.
- Add heavy cream and soy sauce.
- Finely dice the onion.
- Heat the butter in a frying pan over medium heat and add the chopped onion.
- When the onion is tender, add the squid and cook until it changes color.
- Add the sake and sauté until alcohol is evaporated.
- Add the onion and squid mixture into the mentaiko sauce. Mix well.
- Reheat the frozen udon noodles in boiling water for 1 minute.
- 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.
- Cut shiso leaves into julienned strips.
- Garnish the pasta with nori and shiso leaves. Sprinkle shichimi togarashi if you like it to be spicy.
- Mentaiko is raw and it's not recommended to reheat. Therefore, make this recipe for the portion you're going to serve.