12.062 Mentaiko Spaghetti


8 (Mon) March 2021

Mentaiko Spaghetti


by me

at home

-Changgok, Sujeong, Seongnam, Gyeonggi, Republic of Korea-

with the Family

Mentaiko Spaghetti is a Japanese-Italian dish.  Consists of spicy pickled cod roe (mentaiko) in cream sauce with pasta, typically spaghetti, often topped with dried nori strips.  No reliably sourced information on where/when/who invented the dish, only a commonly recounted story about it supposedly being improvised at an Italian restaurant in Tokyo during the 1960s, originally with caviar then later the more readily available and cheaper mentaiko.  These days, the dish is a staple both at home and at restaurants, Japanese and Italian.  Also growing in popularity at Italian restaurants in Korea.

Interestingly, while “ko = child (i.e., egg/roe),” the term “mentai” is borrowed from the Korean “myeongtae (명태) (明太) = pollack;” the pure Japanese term for pollack roe is “tarako.”

As suggested by the etymology, mentaiko itself appears to be based on the Korean spicy pickled cod roe myeongran (pollack roe) jeot (pickle), though I’d need to do stronger research to confirm.

I’ve only tried Japanese mentaiko once, which I recall being excellent, though I can’t remember how/if they differ from Korean myeongran jeot (see 7.265 Negibashi Maki).

On-line recipes all seemed pretty much the same in composition: mentaiko (eggs only, sacs discarded) + butter + cream + soy sauce, so I eyeballed the amounts.

Alas, it turned out bitter.  Nobody got past the first bite.  Must’ve been the mentaiko, in fact myeongran jeot, though they seemed fine when I tasted them raw.  Oh well.

(See also FOODS.)

(See also PLACES.)

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