Mentaiko is marinated roe of pollock and 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. Another benefit of making this pasta dish at home is that you can tweak the recipe to your liking, such as adjusting the creaminess and saltiness of the pasta. I personally do not like creamy pasta, so I am happy that my home version is without cream. In this recipe, I am using the non-coloured type of mentaiko (hence the pale colour of the dish) but if you prefer a more orange hue, be sure to buy the bright coloured mentaiko.
1/2 tsp Japanese shoyu (substitute with light soy sauce)
2 tbsp Japanese mayonnaise
2 tsp sake (subsitute with mirin)
30 grams butter melted
1 serving favourite pasta (I am using 70g spaghetti)
shredded nori (roasted seaweed) for topping
salt to taste
Make a slit on each mentaiko sac and scrap out the roe with a spoon. Discard the membrane. Set aside 1 tsp of roe for garnishing.
In a small bowl, add the fish roe along with mayonnaise, sake, soy sauce and butter and whisk to combine everything together.
Cook pasta in salted water until al dente. Drain pasta and reserve a small cup of pasta water.
Add the mentaiko sauce prepared in step 2 to the drained pasta while it is still hot. Toss until well-mixed. If the pasta is too dry, add a bit of reserved pasta water to help bind the ingredients together. Season to taste with salt if needed.
Dish the pasta to a serving plate and garnish with shredded nori and roe.
Noob Cook Tip
You can use either spicy mentaiko (karashi mentaiko/(辛子明太子) (my preferred type; used in this recipe) or non-spicy version for this recipe.
If you prefer a richer taste, you can add a few tablespoons of cream to the sauce at step 2.