How To Make Mentaiko Pasta (Spicy Cod Roe Butter Spaghetti)-Japanese Taste

How To Make Mentaiko Pasta (Spicy Cod Roe Butter Spaghetti)

by Megumi Moriya

Main Easy Japanese-Western Pasta Seafood Seaweed Under 30 Minutes Weeknight Dinner Idea Yoshoku

If you ask Japanese people about their favorite pasta sauce, the most likely answer to come out on top would be Mentaiko sauce. This Mentaiko sauce was created in Japan and has achieved a perfect fusion of Japanese and Western dishes.

In case you are not familiar with "Mentaiko," let us explain what it is.

Mentaiko, translated as "spicy salted Pollock roe" in English, is made by fermenting and seasoning the ovaries of Pollock. It has a salty and spicy taste derived from the seasoning mixture containing chili peppers. The outside is covered with an extremely thin, layer-like skin. While the skin is edible, it is usually removed, and only the inside is used, especially for cooking. We will tell you how to remove the skin easily in our recipe later.

Mentaiko is a cluster of extremely tiny fish roes. In Japan, Mentaiko is commonly enjoyed with steamed rice (as a topping or often in the form of a rice ball, Onigiri) and is also used in cooking as a seasoning, adding an accent of spiciness and umami flavor. Don't forget "Mentai(ko) France," which is bread with savory Mentaiko butter spread. It is one of the most beloved mentaiko-containing items that Japanese people love, alongside Mentaiko pasta.

In this recipe, we are going to introduce you to how to make Mentaiko pasta that Japan proudly presents to the world. There are variations of Mentaiko pasta, such as cream Mentaiko pasta and garlic Mentaiko pasta. However, what we are introducing you to today doesn't use cream or milk, apart from butter, making it the simplest Mentaiko pasta that allows you to enjoy the flavor of Mentaiko directly. With just a handful of ingredients, this recipe offers a quick and authentic way to savor the rich and distinctive taste of Mentaiko.

If you have a chance to get Mentaiko in your place, why not try this one for your lunch?


Prep time: 5 mins

Cook time: 10 mins

Total time: 15 mins

Total servings: 1

Difficulty: Easy

  • 90 g Spaghetti (we used 1.4mm thick Spaghetti)
  • 1 Piece of Spicy Salted Pollock Roe (Mentaiko)
  • 15 g Butter
  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 2 tsp Salt (for boiling the Spaghetti)
  • 1 L Water (for boiling the Spaghetti)
  • Shiso Leaves (topping, optional)
  • Shredded Nori Seaweed (topping, optional)
  • Chopped Green Onions (topping, optional)
  • Sliced Lemon (topping, optional)
  • Additional Mentaiko (topping, optional)

Expert's Tip

How To Make Mentaiko Pasta (Spicy Cod Roe Butter Spaghetti)

When you want to add a Japanese touch to your finished dishes, shredded nori seaweed is the perfect garnish. As dried nori seaweed is susceptible to moisture, using pre-shredded nori seaweed is convenient, allowing you to use it for a variety of dishes, not only traditional Japanese but also Japanese-Western fusion dishes. Its delicate flavor will undoubtedly enhance the overall taste of your dishes.


1) Gathering the Ingredients

Gather the ingredients together.

2) Preparing the Mentaiko & Slicing the Shiso Leaves

Cut the upper surface of the mentaiko and extract the inner roes using the back of the knife. The key is to slide the knife gently to avoid tearing the thin skin. 

Slice the shiso into thin strips.

Note: Shiso is an optional topping, but we opted to use it for our garnish.

3) Boiling the Spaghetti

Prepare a pot and fill it with water. Heat until boiling. Add salt to the boiling water and mix. Then, add the spaghetti and boil for the minutes indicated on the package or until it reaches al-dente.

4) Making the Mentaiko Sauce

While boiling the spaghetti, prepare a stainless steel bowl over a pot of hot water, placing the butter and olive oil into the bowl. Melt the butter above the pot, being careful not to get burned.

Once the butter is melted, stir it with the olive oil, and add 2 tablespoons of boiling water from the pasta water, and mix. Then add mentaiko and mix again.

Tip: Mentaiko is a ready-to-eat ingredient. You don’t need to cook or heat it.

5) Mixing the Spaghetti into the Sauce

Add the drained spaghetti to the bowl containing the Mentaiko sauce and stir. Mix thoroughly until the spaghetti absorbs the sauce and is no longer watery.

6) Garnishing & Serving

Transfer the mentaiko pasta to a plate. Garnish it with shiso leaves, lemon, green onion, nori seaweed, or whatever else you would like. Enjoy!

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