5 Foods using Mentaiko Roe that are Popular in Japan
Today I went to a 7 eleven convenience store near my house to buy lunch where I found a newly released Onigiri rice ball lined up on the shelf. I’m fond of trying interesting new products and I was attracted to the Onigiri, so grabbed it on impulse.
The main ingredients in the Onigiri I purchased are grilled salmon flakes and Mentaiko. The salmon flakes have just the 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 delicacy and introduce 5 popular foods using it that are widely enjoyed in Japan.
Karashi Mentaiko (辛子明太子)
Mentaiko is a common food in Japan that many Japanese like to eat with rice. It is made by marinating cod roe, or Alaska (walleye) pollack roe in a liquid seasoning often with ground red peppers.
Fukuoka Prefecture, especially the city Hakata, is famous as a production area of the spicy Mentaiko called “Karashi Mentaiko (辛子明太子)“, and in fact, when we Japanese go on a sightseeing trip to the city, many of us pick up Karashi Mentaiko for souvenirs.
5 Popular Japanese Foods with Mentaiko Roe
The seasoned roe, Mentaiko can be eaten as it is, but one recommended way to enjoy Mantaiko is grilling it prior to eating. This is because lightly cooking the roe over an open flame brings out the flavor very well.
By the way, in Japan, Mentaiko is used as the main ingredient in a wide variety of foods, so last, let me introduce 5 popular Japanese foods using the roe Mentaiko.
Mentai Chazuke (明太茶漬け)
Mentaiko is sometimes prepared for the Japanese rice bowl dish “Ochazuke (お茶漬け)” whose rice is entirely soaked in green tea or soup. The one topped with Mentaiko roe is usually called “Mentai Chazuke (明太茶漬け)” which is one of the most common Ochazuke varieties loved by Japanese people.
We Japanese often use Mentaiko, separating the sack into individual eggs, for the red eggs stand out and have a distinctive savory taste. In fact, there are a variety of Japanese foods using Mentaiko eggs, which include the Onigiri above, pasta dishes, and salads. Especially, many of us Japanese love Mentaiko Spaghetti.
Kamaboko is a traditional Japanese food made by steaming or baking “Surimi (すり身)” fish paste kneaded with sugar, salt, mirin, and egg white. Especially, the one flavored with Mentaiko is popular in Japan, together with Cheese Kamaboko. In fact, these flavored Kamaboko cakes go perfectly with beer.
Many bakeries in Japan sell baguettes spread with Mentaiko butter. The bread actually pairs well with Mentaiko because when toasted, the flavor of Mentaiko is brought out. Also, the Mentaiko butter matches well with rice as well.
Mentaiko is commonly used as the main ingredient in sauces like Mentaiko Mayonnaise and the Mentaiko dip above, which goes especially well with fresh vegetables as the plain taste of vegetables can accentuate the savory rich flavor of the Mentaiko sauce.