Mentaiko (明太子) is made from whole roe sacs of Alaskan pollack (a member of the cod family), which are cured with salt and marinated in various seasonings and spices. It is sometimes referred as karashi mentaiko (辛子明太子), which means spicy pollack/cod roe. “Karashi” means spicy in Japanese, so Karashi Mentaiko is the spicy version of mentaiko.
Originated from Korean cuisine, mentaiko became popular in Japan after World War Two. In Japan, most of the mentaiko are from Fukuoka, a city in the southern island of Kyushu, where there are over three hundred of mentaiko producers in the city alone.
How Do You Eat Karashi Mentaiko?
In Japanese cooking, mentaiko is often enjoyed as a side dish to accompany steamed rice (just like pickled vegetables), or as a topping for Ochazuke, or used as filling inside of Onigiri (rice balls). You can be eat it either raw or cooked.
Another wildly popular mentaiko dish in Japan is Mentaiko Pasta, a type of wafu pasta where the noodles are coated in a simple butter or a cream and mayonnaise sauce infused with the salty and flavorful spicy cod roe.
Where to Buy Karashi Mentaiko?
You can find karashi mentaiko at Japanese grocery stores or Korean grocery stores in the refrigerator and freezer sections. It is often sold in its natural membrane, or in jars, the membrane removed and ready to eat.
Recipes Using Mentaiko