I was in the Korean market the other day, and happened on some salted and spiced cod roe (sometimes pollack roe); mentaiko.
It was exactly where I should have expected it to be, right near all the other fresh peppered seafood.
Mentaiko was born in Korea, but migrated to Japan, where the Japanese took it a step further and made it spicy: karashi mentaiko.
Alas, as I was in a Korean market, all I could get was the mentaiko, but that’s acceptable.
If you have a Korean market nearby, give a look for it! It’s not really cheap, but it’s not like saffron, or “sashimi grade” ahi tuna. You can use it to garnish foods as you would caviar, although the roe are tiny. It’s great mixed in with cream cheese as a spread or bagel shmear. Oh, and don’t forget to add a spoonful to your scrambled eggs, with a bit of dulse or nori!
Here’s what your looking for. Well, half of what you’re looking for. I ate the other half. Oh, and it does freeze.
But the very best
way to use mentaiko is in Japanese spaghetti. It was always a treat for me when I lived in Osaka. Here’s the simple recipe. The only hard part is actually finding
1 Tbsp salt for the pasta water
12 oz (350g) spaghetti
1 square shredded nori (sushi seaweed) If you can get shiso, it’s even better! Chop into a chiffonade and sprinkle on the finished dish.
1/4 cup Tarako (cod roe)
1 Tbsp Soy Sauce
1/4 cup milk
1 Tbsp melted butter
1-2 tsp lemon juice
1. Remove the thin skin of Tarako by making a small cut and pressing or squeezing roe out with a knife or hand
1. In a bowl, add loose Tarako, soy sauce, milk, melted butter, and lemon juice, and mix well.
2. Cook spaghetti in a large pot of salted boiling water. Time according to the pasta package.
3. Add strained hot spaghetti to the sauce and mix.
4. Place spaghetti on a plate and put shredded nori on top.
I really hope you get the chance to try this, it’s a great late night snack!