Mentaiko spaghetti (or tarako spaghetti) is a very popular Japanese yoshoku dish, or a Western-influenced dish. The preparation is very simple and hard to mess up, with pollock roe adding a wonderfully salty and savory flavor, butter doing its usual thing of making everything taste good, and spaghetti serving as the carrier.
I use spaghettini instead of spaghetti since it's thinner and picks up the flavors better. You can typically find pollock roe in the frozen section of Asian grocery stores - it comes in several flavors (mild, spicy, etc) - experiment and see what you like best.
- 300 grams of spaghettini, or about 2/3 of a box of spaghetti
- 2-3 sacs of pollock roe, or mentaiko (明太子)
- 4 tbsp of dashi (optional)
- 3-4 tbsp of butter
- 1/2 lemon
- 10 shiso leaves (紫蘇)
- 1 sheet of roasted seaweed, sliced into thin strips (or you can use the precut kind)
- Cook the spaghettini al dente.
- Split the sacs of roe down the middle, then slice in half. Take a teaspoon and scoop out the eggs, leaving the sac. Chop the shiso leaves into thin strips, and also chop the roasted seaweed similarly (unless you are using the pre-chopped strips).
- Melt the butter on low heat in a large wok or saucepan. Turn off the heat. Add the roe into the pan and stir thoroughly.
- When the spaghettini is done, strain and add immediately to the pan with butter. Add the dashi (or if you don't have dashi handy, then use 4 tbsp of the water that the spaghettini was boiling in). Mix well so that the roe is evenly distributed. Taste and add salt if needed. (I tend to like things pretty salty to I actually used salted butter). Squeeze the lemon over the and toss again well.
- Split into serving size portions, then garnish with shiso and seaweed -- serve immediately so the seaweed strips don't get soggy.
Serving Size: 4
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Preparation Time: 20 minutes