mentaiko spaghetti

Fish eggs on spaghetti! As a kid, I would have laughed at the idea. It was not in my mother’s repertoire.
When my brothers went fishing, it was up to them to clean and cook their catch; I always wished they fished more often.
Hard roe, soft roe, shad roe, coral—I didn’t know; caviar in the movies, yes but not in my mouth!

Ikura, Sujiko, Masago, Tobiko! Kazunoko, Karasumi, Uni! Tarako + Mentaiko!

イクラ, すじこ, 真砂 (?), 飛び子! 数の子/鯑, カラスミ, 鱲子, うに, 雲丹! たらこ + 明太子!

One doesn’t really need a recipe to make this dish: squeeze the mentiko roe from their sacs, mix it up with butter, and hot spaghetti. Of course you can make variations according to your taste. One important refinement I made was to mix the mentiko with some liquid so it was easier to get a more even dispersion of the tiny eggs.

Mentiko Spaghetti
makes 1 generous serving

  • 5 ½ ounces (150 grams) thin spaghetti, capellini, or fettucini (as you like)
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • ½ onion, finely diced
  • a pinch of smoked paprika
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon Japanese mayonnaise
  • 2 Tablespoons of dry white wine
  • 2 Tablespoons chicken stock
  • 1 egg, beaten (optional)
  • ¼ cup half and half
  • 2 sacs of mentaiko
  • nori, cut into thin strips
  • 1 green onion, cut into thin rings
  • 2 smallish salted shiso leaves

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Sauté the onion in butter in a small pan until tender. Add the garlic with a pinch of smocked paprika, and cook until fragrant. Stir in the wine and chick stock; bring to a gentle simmer. Whisk in the egg to thicken the sauce a bit. Add the half and half, stir, remove from heat. Add the pasta to the roiling water and cook according to package directions. Meanwhile, squeeze the roe from their sacs, rinse the shiso leaves, chop them coarsely, prepare the nori and green onion. Drain the spaghetti and toss it with the Kewpie mayo. Reserve a spoonful of the mentaiko for garnish, and stir the remainder into the sauce—it shouldn’t be too hot or you will over-cook the roe. Mix part of the sauce with the pasta, then put it into a shallow bowl (or deep plate). Pour the remaining sauce on top. Garnish. Enjoy.
(If you didn’t use the egg in the sauce, some people like to put it on top of the pasta—poached or raw.)

Felix Gets the Can
This little cartoon video is here only because I like it—be sure to observe the drawings the landscapes and backgrounds: simply and elegantly done—don’t you think?

Mentaiko Supagetti Recipe How to Prepare Mentaiko Salted, Preserved Shiso
Click the links above for more information.

2 thoughts on “mentaiko spaghetti

  1. Oh Tess, bring on the roe! Your spaghetti looks awesome! If people think that all roe is bait… then they otta go to a fish and tackle store and but some “Zeke’s Floatining Bait”!
    The color enough will attract anything with fins! You just grab a little hunk out of the jar… then away you go! I’ve long stopped fishing long ago, but I’ll always remember the neon pink trout bait. We used to back pack up in the Sierras, and it was a favorite of brown trout. Fun memories. Nope… I never did try a finger full.
    AH FELIX!! When I was in middle management, the top brass brought in some Consulting firm that was going to make us better managers…(that meant crack a meaner whip, take lower salary increases, and smile enthusiastically.) One of their “exercises” was to have us name our favorite cartoon character. Of course I chose Felix. I wish that it were true… I could sure use his bag of tricks these days!

    • I had an almost complete reply to your comment here, but it vanished!

      It was about my not-so-great fishing experiences summed up by “Give Tess a fish and she’ll cook it, teach Tess to fish and she’ll find a different job…”

      My brothers tried to show me a few times, but I failed. The one time I actually caught a fish I was like Mikey with a mouse: I didn’t know what to do with it. Brothers said to wap it on the side of the boat, then put it into the basket. Suffice it to say that Mikey has carried more than one mouse into bed to “play” with, and he’s so disappointed when they stop… Who knows what he thinks, but that fish was so lively that killing it was not a thing I wanted to do.

      Now, the pink trout bait… Nope. I guess I wouldn’t try to make sushi with it.

      I’ve never had the joy of those “team-building” experiences, except for a couple of “exercises” where people came to where I work (marketing people in both cases) to “explore thinking outside of the box”. One group made puppets. The other made books or portfolios to represent an image of themselves, or something.

      I don’t think Felix considers failure as a possibility: hot-dogging it to Alaska on a couple of questions marks!

      I wonder what he’d do with a bowl of spaghetti?

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