Tag Archives: mentaiko

Tempting Tarako

10 Sep

I have often been mocked for my extreme love of the ovum of the ocean – roe. Within only a handful of postings on this new site, I have already mentioned mentaiko (spiced tarako, or haddock roe) in 4 posts, including three recipes using the ingredient: Wafu (wahoo!) Mentaiko Pasta, Mentaiko on Rice and Mentaiko on Toast.   But I’m pleased to say that even my pleasure of the pelagic egg has been out-done by this ad, which celebrates tarako – haddock or cod roe.

Let’s enjoying vigorous song of pasta advertisement!


Roe, roe, roe my boat

27 Aug

Everybody is show their love by enjoy eating

Roe of fish is taste great!

If you’ve been following this blog from the beginning, you may have noticed my slight obsession with fish roe, particulary mentaiko, the hyped-up, spiced-up version or tarako (haddock roe).

Mentaiko are only one of the many types of egg-straordinarily delicious occidental pre-embryonic delights. But even more than ikura (salmon roe that provide a little squirt of juiciness that is to die for) and tobiko (flying fish roe that adorn the outside of many an inside-out roll), my heart belongs to mentaiko. (By the by, if you’re in the Lower Mainland, the sockeye are running this weekend, so get out there and buy some local fish and fish roe! I dunno about you, but by Monday, I hope to be buried in a mound of ikura and have to eat my way out.)

Nothing really can beat the adaptability of mentaiko to a variety of cuisines. Salty, spicy, and with that little bit of “pop!” that roe so satisfyingly gives in your mouth, it’s well worth overlooking its’ veiny and rather off-putting appearance. Available in Vancouver at the Korean supermarket H-Mart, and at Vancouver’s largest Japanese food store, Fujiya, this salty treat just needs to defrost before use. Use it sparingly – just one egg sac will deliver enough salt, spice, and texture for 3 – 4 people, depending on how it’s used in the dish.

If you haven’t tasted it before, and aren’t sure if you want to invest in buying a whole box before you know you like it, give it a try in the yaki-udon at Vancouver izakaya chain Zakkushi.

Ready to give it a try? Here are some suggested uses. And relax – it’s SUPER easy to use, and absolutely tasty.

Recipe 1: The Basic Mentaiko – Mentaiko on Rice

They say that simple is best, and if you really like mentaiko like I do, all you need is the accompaniment of a bowl of white rice.

Mentaiko on Rice

Mentaiko on Rice

How to make Mentaiko on Rice

  1. Defrost one egg sac of mentaiko overnight in the fridge.
  2. Cut the egg sac into 4 pieces and place one on each bowl of hot white rice (or a mixture of half brown, half white rice). If you are averse to eating the casing (it’s very thin, but some people might find it hard to take, looks-wise) slice open the sac and spoon about a quarter of the eggs into a small pile on your rice. Enjoy!

Recipe 2: Mentaiko on toast

Another example of mentaiko matched with a favourite carb, the Japanese enjoy eating it on a french baguette (you’ll find mentaiko furansu-pan at most Japanese bakeries)

Mentaiko toast

Mentaiko toast on the far right

How to make Mentaiko on Toast:

  1. Generously butter and then spread mentaiko on either sliced bread or on a halved small French baguette.
  2. Grill in the oven or toaster oven until bread is crusty and mentaiko has cooked through (it will change colour to a light pink when cooked). Enjoy!

Recipe 3: Wa-fu (Wa-hooo!) Mentaiko Pasta

“Wa-hooo!” for wa-fu (literally “Japanese style”) pasta – a treat that takes the best of both Italian and Japanese cuisines and comes up with something out of this world. There are a whole schwack of wa-fu pasta recipes out there, but mentaiko is a perennial favourite.

Mentaiko Pasta

Mentaiko Pasta

How to make Wahoo! Mentaiko Pasta

  1. Defrost the one to two sacs of mentaiko overnight in the fridge. Once fully defrosted…
  2. Boil spaghetti  for 4 in plenty of water. Once cooked al-dente, drain the spaghetti and set aside.
  3. In a frying pan over medium heat, add about 2 Tbsp. butter or oil, the mentaiko, spaghetti, and about 1 Tbsp soy sauce and 3 – 4 Tbsp Japanese mayo, tossing and adjusting soy sauce and mayo to taste.
  4. Serve hot, garnished with sliced shiso herb or shredded dried nori.

Want more details? Go HERE for the full recipe.

Come on, let’s roe our boats together for salty MENtaiko!

Wahoo! Mentaiko Pasta!

22 Jul

Feeling “pop!” of salty, small balls in mouth is always delight

Especially with accompaniment of noodle

Mixes best with the creamy sauce to make milder flavour

Let’s enjoying mentaiko with each other!

Wahoo Mentaiko Pasta

Wahoo! Mentaiko Pasta

The Japanese often combine mentaiko (spiced Haddock roe) with Japanese mayonnaise, butter, or cream to subdue the strong flavour of the spiced haddock roe. Because of its strong flavour, a little goes a long way to spice up carbs like white rice, bread, and the below pasta recipe, one of the most popular wa-fu (Japanese style) pasta sauces.

Mentaiko, outside of Japan will likely be in the freezer section of select Japanese or Asian food marts (available in Vancouver at the downtown Korean supermarket H-Mart on Robson at Seymour). Definitely not appealing at first glance – the row come in the original egg sac, taken straight from the fish – this treat is worth closing your eyes and taking the leap of faith. Salty, crunchy and spicy to the tongue, mentaiko pays you back (and then some) for your courage.


fresh mentaiko

Give it a try – I think you’ll say wahoo! too.

Ingredients for Wahoo! Mentaiko Pasta

  • Enough dried spaghetti for 4
  • One egg-sac of mentaiko
  • About 1/3 cup jako (baby sardines) – optional
  • Approx.  1- 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • Approx. 3 – 4 Tbsp Japanese mayonnaise
  • Approx. 2 Tbsp butter (or olive oil – butter will give a milder flavour to the dish)
  • Garnish: thinly sliced shiso herb and/or dried nori seaweed

How to make Wahoo! Mentaiko Pasta

  1. Defrost the mentaiko overnight in the fridge. Once fully defrosted…
  2. 2. Boil the spaghetti in plenty of water. Just before the spaghetti is ready, pre-heat a large frying pan to medium heat. Once cooked al-dente, drain the spaghetti and set aside.
  3. Once the frying pan is hot, add the butter or oil, mentaiko, and briefly sauté until the butter is fully melted (about 20 – 30 seconds).
  4. Add the spaghetti and toss with soy sauce and mayonnaise, adjusting the amounts of each to your taste. This should only take about one minute.
  5. Serve while hot with the garnish(es) of your choice.

Let’s Forking with spicy roe!

Two Girls Forking

5 Jul

Have you ever put two gorgeous gals in a room, set up a camera, and watched them get forking? That’s what I did today, and well… here are the results.

Get ready to drool.


Mentaiko on Rice

Dashimaki Tamago

Dashimaki Tamago: Japanese Omelette

Natto Hiyayakko

Hiyayakko: Tofu with Natto


Poki - Marinated Tuna and Avodaco

Yasai Itame

Yasai Itame: Stir-fried vegetables

Agedashi Tofu

Agedashi Tofu: Fried Tofu with Dashi soup

I love forking with girls.

Forking in Japan: Day 1&2

4 Jul

Day 1: Arrival

Tired, hot, and bloated from the plane-ride from Vancouver to Tokyo (where, incidentally, I sat right in front of Japanese Olympic figure skater Nobunari Oda), I jumped right into the sac (the fish-roe sac) with a meal including mentaiko – spiced haddock roe.


There is nothing better to trick your body into believing that it’s really 10pm and not 6am, by filling it with hot and spicy roe, mixed with Japanese mayo, spread over a concoction of fried onions and squid, topped with cheese, and baked in a cast iron skillet. I wish I had taken a picture of this bright pink dish, spotted with browned, melted cheese, but after uncountable hours of being awake, I was not thinking straight. Fork-give me.

Day 2: It can be like the First Time, all over again.

It’s been 9 years since I first moved here, 6 years since I moved away, and two years since I was here last, and I’m re-discovering all sorts of things. For example, I forgot that in Japan, it’s ok to:

  • Call your company (and emblazon on your vehicles) “KKK” (a heavy machinery company) and “All-Hard” (I can only guess…)
  • Watch TV on the monitor just next to the steering wheel  while you drive
  • Smoke where you eat (when was the last time you saw an ash-tray on the table?) &
  • Look at girlie mags on the train

There are sure to be many more re-discoveries, but none more exciting than the re-discovery that in Japan, it’s not just okay, but also de-forking-licious to combine pasta with jako (dried baby sardines) and takana (pickled greens), and top it with grated daikon radish and shaved nori. The Japanese love to Japanize (Japanify?) foreign foods, and one of the best results is Wa-fu (pronounced “Wahoo”, and meaning “Japanese-style”) Pasta.  After a long Shinkansen ride, and a hot walk around Osaka, all I can say is, “Wahoo! Pasta!”

Wa-hoo! Pasta!

…later in the day…

Hatsutaiken, in Japanese, means “first experience” and you can probably guess the most common association of the word – with forking! And who knew that on my second day back in Japan, that I’d have my first forking experience with monja-yaki.

Similar to okonomiyaki it’s made with cabbage and a filling of your choice (we chose corn and mentaiko). But additionally, there is also shredded dried cuttlefish, and some kind of mystery liquid. And as is common in Japan, a good part of the forking delight is in the presentation.

How to eat monja-yaki:

1. On the hot teppan grill embedded in your table, stir-fry the cabbage, shredded dried cuttlefish, and other fillings.

Monjayaki step 1
2. Open up a well in the middle, and pour in a little of the liquid, mixing it in with some of the veggies. Once it’s slightly incorporated, open up a large circle in the middle, pour in the rest of the liquid, and then mix together all of the veggies and liquid.

monja-yaki step 2

3. Spread it out in a thin layer on the teppan grill. Top with mayonnaise and enjoy the likeness of your foods’ consistency with the texture of the quivering jelly-fish you might find stranded on a beach at low tide.

monja-yaki step 3
4. Using a tiny metal spatula, scrape a miniscule amount of the edge of the bubbling mass to the side of the grill, pressing it down to force-fry the morsel. When it sticks to your spatula, it’s ready! Pop the piping hot monja-yaki down the hatch, and go back for more.

monja-yaki step 4

Is there anything you haven’t tried? Maybe now is the time to explore some unknown territory. Let’s forking for the first time!