5 Must-Try Foods with Mentaiko Roe that are Popular in Japan

Today I went to a 7 eleven convenience store in my neighborhood to buy a lunch, where I found a newly released Onigiri rice ball lined up on the shelf. I love trying new products, so the Onigiri attracted my interest and I just grabbed it on impulse.

The main ingredients of the Onigiri I purchased are grilled salmon flakes and Mentaiko. The salmon flakes have just a right amount of salt and the Mentaiko roe gives the salmon a little bit of kick. As a result, They are a good match for the onigiri.

By the way, have you ever heard of the Japanese food “Mentaiko (明太子)”? This time I will talk about the food and introduce 5 popular foods with it widely enjoyed in Japan.

What type of food is Mentaiko?

Spicy Mentaiko, “Karashi Mentaiko (辛子明太子)”

Karashi Mentaiko
I think Mentaiko is one of the most famous Japanese delicacies in the world. The Japanese food is basically made pickling cod roe in salt, but many Mentaiko products are also made using walleye pollack roe.

Mentaiko is available at supermarkets and grocery stores throughout Japan, and is widely enjoyed in each household. We Japanese typically enjoy Mentaiko with plain white rice, putting the roe on top of the rice.

Fukuoka Prefecture, especially the city of Hakata is famous as a producing area of spicy Mentaiko “Karashi Mentaiko (辛子明太子)“. Karashi Mentaiko is very popular as a specialty of Hakata. In fact, when we Japanese go on a sightseeing trip to the city, many of us choose Karashi Mentaiko as a Hakata souvenir.

5 Popular Japanese Foods with Mentaiko Roe

As I wrote above, Mentaiko can be eaten as is, but the recommended way to enjoy Mantaiko is grilling it prior to eating. This is because the flavor is brought out when the roe is lightly cooked over an open flame.

By the way, Mentaiko is used as a main ingredient in a wide variety of foods in Japan, so last, let me introduce 5 popular Japanese foods with Mentaiko roe.

Mentai Chazuke (明太茶漬け)

Mental Chazuke (明太茶漬け)Mentai Chazuke

Mentaiko is sometimes prepared as a main topping for “Ochazuke (お茶漬け)“. Ochazuke is a representative Japanese rice bowl dish, which is basically made pouring hot green tea into a bowl of steamed plain rice. The Ochazuke with Mentaiko is usually called “Mentai Chazuke (明太茶漬け)”. If you want to know how to make Ochazuke, this article will help.

Mentaiko Spaghetti

S&B Mentaiko Spagetti Sauce 1.85-Ounce Units (Pack of 6)
Easy to cook. Just pour the sauce onto boiled spaghetti noodles and mix well, then put toppings on the cooked spaghetti

We Japanese often use Mentaiko, breaking the egg sack into flakes. In fact, there are a variety of Japanese foods using Mentaiko flakes, including the above Onigiri, Spaghetti, and salads. This is because Mentaiko has a distinctive flavor that can give depth and its red color stands out. Especially, many Japanese love the pasta with Mentaiko flakes.

Mentaiko Kamaboko

Maruzen Karashi Mentaiko Kamaboko 120 g (30 g X4 pieces) X10 bags
You can enjoy this product as a finger food for beer or just as a snack food

Kamaboko is a traditional Japanese food made from fish paste. Especially, the one flavored with Mentaiko is popular in Japan, together with Cheese Kamaboko. The Mentaiko Kamaboko paste goes perfectly with beer. When I drink at home, I sometimes prepare it as a finger food. The flavored Kamaboko is sold at many convenience stores in Japan.

Mentaiko Butter

Mentaiko Butter 90g
This Mentaiko butter works well with bread, rice and a variety of foods

Many bakeries in Japan sell baguettes with Mentaiko-flavored butter. Bread actually makes a good pair with Mentaiko because the flavor of Mentaiko is brought out when bread is baked with the Mentaiko butter. This Mentaiko butter matches well with rice as well.

Mentaiko Dipping Sauce

Kewpie Mentaiko Dipping Sauce
Just dip fresh vegetables in this Mentaiko sauce and enjoy

Mentaiko is sometimes used as a main ingredient for sauce as the roe has a salty, spicy, distinctive flavor. The sauce containing Mentaiko roe, like Mentaiko Mayonnaise and the above Mentaiko dip, goes perfectly with fresh vegetables in particular as the plain taste of vegetables accentuates the rich flavor of Mentaiko sauce.


Hi, I'm Tomo, a Japanese blogger living in Niigata Prefecture, Japan. For the purpose of enriching your life, I would like to introduce things about Japan on this blog, especially unique Japanese products, cooking recipes, cultures, and facts and trivia.

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