This mentaiko pasta is quick and easy to make, yet loaded with delicious umami flavors in every bite. Made with just a handful of ingredients, this Japanese pasta is rich, creamy, and so comforting, it will instantly become a household favorite.
What is Mentaiko Pasta?
Mentaiko pasta (明太子パスタ) is a Japanese pasta made with a base of Mentaiko (also known as ‘Myeongranjeot in Korea), which are whole sacks of marinated Alaskan pollock roe that are savory and slightly spicy in taste.
Although it can be served raw, spicy cod roe is often used as a cooking ingredient to add an extra layer of umami to a dish, but the most popular adaptation comes in the form of pasta, which is the dish I will be sharing with you today.
This Japanese fusion dish is easily the most popular type of Wafu Pasta (和風パスタ) which directly translates to Japanese-style pasta and features spaghetti noodles tossed in a creamy mentaiko sauce that is packed with delicious umami flavors.
Although the traditional recipe is made with a base of cream and mentaiko, my version of this dish includes a base of sautéed onions and garlic to add an extra layer of depth to the sauce.
Despite its sophisticated flavors, this is one of the easiest pasta dishes you can make at home with only a handful of ingredients, making it to one of the most popular home-cooked dishes in Japanese cuisine.
This pasta dish is easily one of my favorite Japanese recipes of all time, and if you are a fan of cream-based pasta like I am, I guarantee that you will instantly fall in love with the first bite.
What do I need to make Mentaiko Pasta?
As long as you have a pack of spicy cod roe at hand, this creamy mentaiko spaghetti is incredibly easy to make with just a handful of simple ingredients.
Here is everything you’ll need for this mentaiko recipe:
- Pasta: Spaghetti is the classic choice for this recipe, but you can also opt for other types of pasta noodles such as Linguine, Capellini (Angel Hair), or Fettuccine depending on your preference.
- Mentaiko: these bright red cod roe sacks can be easily found in the frozen or refrigerated section of Korean or Japanese grocery stores labelled as ‘Mentaiko’ or ‘Myeongranjeot’ in Korean.
- If you cannot find Mentaiko, you can substitute with Tarako (たらこ) which is a similar alternative without the chili peppers and spice.
- Cooking oil: of any kind. I prefer using neutral oil such as Avocado oil, but you can also use extra-virgin olive oil.
- Onion + garlic: for the aromatic flavors.
- Heavy cream: for the extra creamy mentaiko sauce. To make a low-fat version, you can mix in a half amount of milk, or use evaporated milk for a much healthier option.
- Red pepper flakes: optional, to add a hint of spice to the mentaiko sauce.
- Nori: aka dried seaweed. Simply slice your nori sheets into thin strips to use as garnish. You can use a pre-sliced version known as Kizami Nori, or add a dash of Furikake instead.
- Another popular garnish, as pictured in the photos, is julienned shiso leaves (also known as perilla leaves) which add a wonderful aroma to the dish.
And that’s it! All the ingredients you’ll need to make your own mentaiko spaghetti, which is the most popular version of Japanese pasta.
I hope you enjoy this easy & delicious mentaiko recipe, and please leave me a comment below or message me on Instagram if you have any questions. Happy cooking everyone! ツ゚
Other easy Japanese recipes you may like:
- Melt-In-Your-Mouth Japanese Hamburger Steak
- Creamy Mushroom Udon
- Oyakodon (Japanese Chicken & Egg Rice Bowl)
- Chicken Katsu (Japanese Chicken Cutlet)
- Omurice (Japanese Omelette Rice)
15-Minute Creamy Mentaiko Pasta
- 200 g spaghetti or your choice of pasta noodles
- 1 tbsp cooking oil
- 1/2 medium onion sliced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes optional
- 1 cup heavy cream or evaporated milk
- 2 pieces (80g) mentaiko or myeongranjeot
- nori and/or shiso leaves for garnish
- To prepare the mentaiko, use a small pairing knife to slice open the sack, and scrape out the roe with a spoon. Set aside the roe and discard the membrane.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add a generous amount of salt (see notes below) and add pasta. Cook until it is 1 minute shy of al-dente, and reserve about a cup of pasta water.
- Heat oil in a large pan over medium heat. Saute onion and garlic until fragrant, followed by red pepper flakes. Add heavy cream, mentaiko, and 1/2 cup pasta water and stir well to combine.
- Mix in the pasta, season with salt, and cook while continuously stirring for 1-2 minutes until the pasta is cooked through. Garnish and enjoy!
♥ Did you make this recipe? Please give it a 5-star rating or leave a comment below to share your experience, or tag @cookerru on Instagram to showcase your creations!
Mentaiko pasta is my favorite and this recipe was simply perfection!! So easy to make as well. Thanks so much for sharing!