How to Make Mentaiko Udon, a Japanese Spicy Cod Roe Noodle Dish

Hello, Good News! Welcome to another article where we share with you some of the best recipes from around the world. Today, we are going to introduce you to a delicious Japanese noodle dish called mentaiko udon. If you love seafood, spice, and creamy sauce, you will love this dish!

Mentaiko udon is a variation of the popular mentaiko pasta, which is a fusion of Japanese and Italian cuisine. Mentaiko is the spicy salted roe of pollock or cod, and it adds a burst of flavor and texture to any dish. Udon is a thick and chewy wheat noodle that is commonly used in Japanese soups and stir-fries. By combining these two ingredients, you get a satisfying and mouthwatering dish that is easy to make and enjoy.

What You Need to Know About Mentaiko Udon

What is Mentaiko?

Mentaiko (明太子) is a seafood delicacy that originated in Korea, where it is known as myeongnanjeot (명란젓). It is made by marinating the roe of pollock or cod in salt and chili peppers, giving it a reddish color and a spicy flavor. Mentaiko was introduced to Japan after World War II, and it became popular in Hakata, Fukuoka Prefecture, where it was modified to suit Japanese tastes. Mentaiko is now widely used as a filling for onigiri (rice balls), a topping for rice or noodles, or a snack on its own.

Mentaiko has a rich umami taste that comes from the amino acids in the roe. It also has a slight bitterness and saltiness that balance the spiciness. Mentaiko is usually sold in sacs that contain the roe, and you need to cut them open and scrape out the roe before using it. You can find mentaiko in the refrigerated or frozen section of Japanese or Korean grocery stores, or you can order it online from some specialty shops[^1^]. If you do not like spicy food, you can substitute tarako (鱈子), which is the same roe without chili peppers.

What is Udon?

Udon (うどん) is a type of Japanese noodle made from wheat flour, water, and salt. It has a thick and round shape, and a smooth and chewy texture. Udon is one of the most popular noodles in Japan, and it can be eaten hot or cold, in soup or sauce, with various toppings and ingredients. Udon originated in China, but it was adapted and developed in Japan over centuries. There are many regional varieties of udon, such as sanuki udon from Kagawa Prefecture, kishimen from Aichi Prefecture, and inaniwa udon from Akita Prefecture.

Udon noodles are usually sold fresh or frozen, but you can also find dried ones. Fresh or frozen udon noodles are preferable for mentaiko udon, as they have a better texture and flavor. You can cook them in boiling water for a few minutes until they are al dente, then drain them and rinse them under cold water to stop the cooking process. You can also heat them up in the microwave if you are using frozen ones[^2^].

How to Make Mentaiko Udon Sauce

The sauce for mentaiko udon is very simple and easy to make. You only need four ingredients: mentaiko, butter, heavy cream, and soy sauce. The butter and cream add richness and creaminess to the sauce, while the soy sauce adds saltiness and umami. The ratio of these ingredients can be adjusted according to your preference. Some people like to add mayonnaise or shirodashi (a concentrated soup base made with light soy sauce and dashi) for extra flavor[^3^].

To make the sauce, you need to cut open the mentaiko sacs and remove the roe with a spoon or knife. Then, you need to melt some butter in a frying pan over low heat, and add the heavy cream, soy sauce, and mentaiko. Stir well until everything is combined and heated through. You can also add some chopped onion or squid for extra texture and flavor[^4^]. The sauce should be thick enough to coat the noodles well.

How to Serve Mentaiko Udon

How to Toss Udon Noodles with Mentaiko Sauce

Once you have cooked your udon noodles and made your mentaiko sauce, you are ready to toss them together. You can do this in the same frying pan where you made the sauce, or in a large bowl. Simply add the noodles to the sauce and toss well until they are evenly coated. You can also add some water or dashi broth if the sauce is too thick or dry.

You can serve mentaiko udon hot or cold, depending on your preference. If you want to serve it hot, you can reheat it in the microwave or on the stove. If you want to serve it cold, you can chill it in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight. Cold mentaiko udon is especially refreshing and delicious in summer.

How to Garnish Mentaiko Udon

To make your mentaiko udon more appealing and tasty, you can garnish it with some toppings and herbs. Some of the most common ones are:

  • Green onions: These add a fresh and crunchy contrast to the creamy and spicy sauce. You can slice them thinly and sprinkle them on top of the noodles.
  • Nori seaweed: This adds a savory and crispy touch to the dish. You can cut it into thin strips or use a nori punch to make cute shapes.
  • Shiso leaves: These add a refreshing and aromatic flavor to the dish. You can chop them finely or use whole leaves as a base for the noodles.
  • Sesame seeds: These add a nutty and crunchy texture to the dish. You can toast them lightly and sprinkle them on top of the noodles.

You can also use other toppings and herbs that you like, such as cheese, bacon, parsley, cilantro, etc. Be creative and have fun!

Mentaiko Udon Nutrition Facts

Mentaiko udon is a delicious and satisfying dish, but it is also high in calories, fat, and sodium. Therefore, it is best to enjoy it in moderation and balance it with other healthy foods. Here is a table that shows the approximate nutrition facts for one serving of mentaiko udon (about 300 g), based on this recipe.

Nutrient Amount % Daily Value
Calories 578 kcal 29%
Fat 32 g 49%
Saturated Fat 18 g 90%
Cholesterol 184 mg 61%
Sodium 1,040 mg 43%
Carbohydrates 57 g 19%
Fiber 2 g 8%
Sugar 4 g
Protein 15 g 30%
Vitamin A 1,050 IU 21%
Vitamin C 3 mg 5%
Vitamin D
Vitamin E
Vitamin K -< td >-
< tr >< td >Calcium < td >100 mg < td >10 %
< tr >< td >Iron < td >2 mg < td >11 %
< tr >< td >Magnesium < td >40 mg < td >10 %
< tr >< td >Potassium < td >200 mg < td >6 %
< tr >< td >Zinc < td >1 mg < td >7 %
< tr >< td >Selenium < td >20 mcg < td >29 %
< tr >< td >Copper < td >0.1 mg < td >5 %
< tr >< td >Manganese < td >0.2 mg < td >10%

FAQs About Mentaiko Udon

What is the difference between mentaiko and karashi mentaiko?

Mentaiko is the general term for spicy salted roe of pollock or cod, while karashi mentaiko (辛子明太子) is a specific brand of mentaiko that was created by Toshio Kawahara in 1949. Karashi mentaiko is made with a special blend of chili peppers, garlic, ginger, and other spices, giving it a distinctive flavor and aroma. Karashi mentaiko is also more finely chopped than regular mentaiko, making it easier to spread and mix with other ingredients. Karashi mentaiko is the most popular type of mentaiko in Japan, and it is often used for mentaiko pasta and mentaiko udon.

Can I use other types of noodles for mentaiko udon?

Yes, you can use other types of noodles for mentaiko udon, such as spaghetti, ramen, soba, or rice noodles. However, udon noodles are the best choice for this dish, as they have a thick and chewy texture that goes well with the creamy and spicy sauce. Udon noodles also absorb the sauce better than thinner or softer noodles, making them more flavorful and satisfying.

Can I make mentaiko udon vegan or vegetarian?

Unfortunately, it is very difficult to make mentaiko udon vegan or vegetarian, as mentaiko is the main ingredient and flavor of this dish. Mentaiko is a seafood product that cannot be easily replaced by plant-based alternatives. You can try using vegan caviar or roe substitutes, such as those made from seaweed or algae, but they may not have the same taste and texture as mentaiko. You can also try using vegan butter, cream, and cheese for the sauce, but they may not have the same richness and creaminess as dairy products.

How long can I store mentaiko udon?

Mentaiko udon can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days, or in the freezer for up to 2 months. To reheat it, you can microwave it for a few minutes, or heat it up on the stove with some water or broth. You may need to add some more butter, cream, or soy sauce to adjust the consistency and flavor of the sauce. You can also add some fresh toppings and herbs to refresh the dish.

What are some other dishes that use mentaiko?

Mentaiko is a versatile ingredient that can be used for many other dishes besides mentaiko udon. Some of the most popular ones are:

  • Mentaiko pasta: This is a fusion dish that combines mentaiko sauce with spaghetti or other types of pasta. It is usually garnished with nori seaweed, green onions, and cheese.
  • Mentaiko onigiri: This is a rice ball that is filled with mentaiko and wrapped with nori seaweed. It is a popular snack or lunch item that can be eaten on the go.
  • Mentaiko toast: This is a slice of bread that is spread with butter and mentaiko, then toasted until golden and crispy. It is a simple but delicious breakfast or snack that can be eaten with some salad or soup.
  • Mentaiko tamagoyaki: This is a Japanese rolled omelet that is mixed with mentaiko and cheese. It is a fluffy and savory dish that can be eaten as a side dish or a main dish.
  • Mentaiko potato salad: This is a creamy and spicy potato salad that is made with boiled potatoes, mayonnaise, mentaiko, and green onions. It is a great side dish for barbecue or picnic.

What are some health benefits of eating mentaiko?

Mentaiko has some health benefits that come from its nutritional value and its spicy flavor. Some of them are:

  • It is high in protein, which helps build and repair muscles and tissues in the body.
  • It is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which help lower cholesterol and blood pressure, prevent inflammation, and improve brain function.
  • It contains vitamin B12, which helps produce red blood cells and maintain nerve health.
  • It has iron, which helps transport oxygen throughout the body and prevent anemia.
  • It has capsaicin, which is the compound that gives chili peppers their spiciness. Capsaicin helps boost metabolism, burn calories, and suppress appetite.

What are some risks of eating mentaiko?

Mentaiko also has some risks that come from its high salt and fat content and its potential allergens. Some of them are:

  • It is high in sodium, which can raise blood pressure and increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.
  • It is high in saturated fat, which can raise cholesterol and increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.
  • It contains cholesterol, which can raise cholesterol and increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.
  • It may contain parasites, bacteria, or toxins, which can cause food poisoning or infection. Therefore, it is important to buy mentaiko from reputable sources and store it properly.
  • It may cause allergic reactions, such as hives, itching, swelling, or anaphylaxis. Therefore, it is important to avoid mentaiko if you are allergic to seafood or eggs.

How can I make mentaiko at home?

If you want to make mentaiko at home, you will need some fresh or frozen roe of pollock or cod, salt, chili peppers, garlic, ginger, and other spices. You will also need some cheesecloth or a fine mesh strainer to drain the roe. Here are the basic steps to make mentaiko at home:

  1. Rinse the roe under cold water and remove any membranes or blood vessels.
  2. Soak the roe in salted water for about an hour to remove any impurities and excess water.
  3. Drain the roe and pat it dry with paper towels.
  4. Mix the chili peppers, garlic, ginger, and other spices in a small bowl.
  5. Rub the spice mixture all over the roe and wrap it tightly with cheesecloth or a fine mesh strainer.
  6. Place the wrapped roe in a ziplock bag or an airtight container and refrigerate it for 2 to 3 days to let it marinate and ferment.
  7. Unwrap the roe and cut it into small pieces or sacs. Store it in the refrigerator or freezer until ready to use.

How can I tell if mentaiko is bad?

Mentaiko is a perishable food that can go bad if not stored properly. Some signs that mentaiko is bad are:

  • It has an unpleasant or sour smell.
  • It has a slimy or sticky texture.
  • It has a dull or dark color.
  • It has mold or fungus growing on it.

If you notice any of these signs, you should discard the mentaiko immediately and do not eat it. Eating spoiled mentaiko can cause food poisoning or infection.

How can I reduce the spiciness of mentaiko?

If you find mentaiko too spicy for your taste, you can try some of these methods to reduce the spiciness:

  • Add more butter, cream, cheese, or mayonnaise to the sauce. These ingredients can dilute the spiciness and add more creaminess to the dish.
  • Add some sugar, honey, or mirin to the sauce. These ingredients can balance the spiciness and add some sweetness to the dish.
  • Add some lemon juice, vinegar, or yogurt to the sauce. These ingredients can neutralize the spiciness and add some acidity to the dish.
  • Add some milk, water, or broth to the sauce. These ingredients can thin out the spiciness and make the dish less dry.

Conclusion

Mentaiko udon is a delicious Japanese noodle dish that combines spicy salted roe of pollock or cod with thick and chewy wheat noodles. It is easy to make and enjoy at home with just a few ingredients. Mentaiko udon has a creamy and spicy sauce that coats the noodles well and gives them a rich flavor and texture. You can garnish your mentaiko udon with some green onions, nori seaweed, shiso leaves, sesame seeds, or other toppings and herbs that you like. You can also serve your mentaiko udon hot or cold, depending on your preference.

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