August 13, 2015
This is Mentaiko – spiced pollack roe. Originally Korean, it's become a Japanese staple. I think of it as soft Asian bottarga with a little chile kick. And I use it in almost everything I'd use bottarga in. Sometimes it stands in for uni, although more for texture than for flavor, and it makes a really delicious pasta dish. You can find mentaiko at most Asian markets; I bought mine at Sunrise Mart.
But my favorite way to eat mentaiko? Very simply. Squeeze the roe out of the sac onto a small bowl of hot rice and mix like crazy.
If you're looking for a good pasta recipe, here's one I like very much from Grace Keh: it's not only an excellent recipe, but a very good explanation of exactly what to expect when you're using mentaiko.
And while we're on recipes I like…. A recent post on Zester about savory peaches intrigued me too much to resist. I've never thought of using peaches as if they were a vegetable and the result was really fantastic. The peaches I used were hard as rocks – so hard I peeled them like apples – but in the end they were tender, fragrant and absolutely delicious. If you've never thought about peaches with ginger and garlic, they're a fine surprise. They made a perfect accompaniment to a bowl of spicy Chinese noodles.