First posted in 2011, updated in Mar 2015.
Mentaiko is marinated pollock roe and a popular ingredient in Japanese cuisine. Using it to make mentaiko pasta (明太子パスタ) is my favourite way to enjoy this ingredient. This Italian-Japanese pasta is usually quite expensive on the menu, but easily less than half the price and more than double the roe, to make at home.
- Ingredient Spotlight: Mentaiko
- Hotate Mentaiyaki (Baked Scallops with Mentaiko) Recipe
- Japanese Recipes
As gourmet as this pasta may sound and look, it is actual the simplest pasta recipe out there! The sauce does not require stove-top cooking and took me 5 minutes. The only real cooking I did was to cook the pasta (spaghetti).
To make the 5-minute sauce, I basically melted butter in the microwave, then whisked in the other ingredients in a small bowl.
There are two main types of spicy ‘karashi’ mentaiko (辛子明太子) you can find at the local Japanese supermarkets. The colourless type will result in a colourless pasta with visible bits of roe in it. On the other hand, the coloured type (featured in this recipe; pictured above), will result in a slight salmon pink pasta sauce. Click here to read more information about mentaiko.
May I know if I substitute the butter with olive oil will I be vastly altering the taste ?
Butter is more aromatic, but it’s ok to substitute with olive oil.
Do you use salted or unsalted butter?
unsalted butter and season the sauce if needed with salt later (but it’s ok if you only have salted butter in the fridge right now).