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Mentaiko Pasta

First posted in 2011, updated in Mar 2015.

Mentaiko is marinated pollock roe and a popular ingredient in Japanese cuisine. Using it to make mentaiko pasta (明太子パスタ) is my favourite way to enjoy this ingredient. This Italian-Japanese pasta is usually quite expensive on the menu, but easily less than half the price and more than double the roe, to make at home.

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Mentaiko Pasta Sauce Recipe

As gourmet as this pasta may sound and look, it is actual the simplest pasta recipe out there! The sauce does not require stove-top cooking and took me 5 minutes. The only real cooking I did was to cook the pasta (spaghetti).

Mentaiko Pasta Sauce Recipe

To make the 5-minute sauce, I basically melted butter in the microwave, then whisked in the other ingredients in a small bowl.

Karashi Mentaiko (辛子明太子)

There are two main types of spicy ‘karashi’ mentaiko (辛子明太子) you can find at the local Japanese supermarkets. The colourless type will result in a colourless pasta with visible bits of roe in it. On the other hand, the coloured type (featured in this recipe; pictured above), will result in a slight salmon pink pasta sauce.  Click here to read more information about mentaiko.

Mentaiko Pasta Recipe

50 comments on “Mentaiko Pasta”

  1. Looks so good. I love the saki set.

  2. I am ashamed to say that I have never heard of mentaiko! It looks very interesting.

  3. I’m not familiar with mentaiko, but I’m wondering if the flavor is similar to bottarga (which I love)? The pasta looks great with the shredded nori on top!

  4. Hi Wiffy, the pasta looks delicious. I don’t think I have ever had this before as I usually go for Italian pasta rather than Japanese ones.

  5. Awwww, mentaiko pasta! My fave!!!
    Sadly, there is no mentaiko in Porto, so I have to look at your pix and drool over my PC monitor LOL!

    • aww, what a pity! Hopefully my version don’t look too shabby compared to the authentic ones you used to eat in Japan.

  6. This one is sooo interesting! Of course interesting-good! I wish I could try it but it doesn’t seem to appear vegetarian with the sac. Hmmm, is there a good alternative to it? I DO love the nori twist though, that is just sooo neat!

    • I’m not sure if there is any vegetarian caviar out there, but if you come across any you can try that for the recipe :)

  7. Oh wow I’ve never heard of such a thing — must be very flavorful!

  8. Hi, where do you get the mentaiko from?

    • Hi, supermarkets at Isetan Scotts, Takashimaya (SG) will sell it. Selected Cold Storage outlets sell it too (sushi/sashimi section).

  9. Being a Fukuoka resident (福岡県福岡市) there is PLENTY of mentaiko here! Question: can you use mentaiko from a tube? Got some as an omiyage and don’t care for it on its own. How would you adjust? Can’t wait to hear back (: thanks!

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