Seriously I’m not a massive fan of pasta, but I don’t know why I’ve got so hooked on this. Could it be, because it has a little spicy taste and drier in texture – the kind I always like in Chinese chow mein (stir fried noodles)? However don’t get me wrong, this Wafu Mentaiko Pasta 和風明太子パスタ is definitely not a chinese dish.
What is Wafu Pasta?
Wafu Pasta is pasta with a classic Japanese flair. Still remain very popular today, this is a “revolutionary” dish inherited from the early 20th century that sort of redefine the way of eating pasta.
Neither with the Italian’s Bolognese nor Alfredo, Japanese sauce their pasta alongside dashi, umeboshi, soya sauce and dollops of butter with a generous sprinkle of Kizami-nori on top – just as seen in rice donburi or soba noodles.
What makes it even more interesting and unique, Wafu pasta are served with chopsticks in some old authentic Japanese Yoshoku restaurants!
Among the many kinds of Wafu pasta, I particularly adore this one with Karashi–Mentaiko though I am naturally not a seafood person.
Karashi-Mentaiko 辛子明太子 is a marinated spicy version of Tarako たらこ, cod roe. Because it is so widely popular in Japan, there is no reason for you not to find any.
Particularly in Fukuoka, where it is famous for producing the freshest Mentaiko at a premium quality, you’ll have a wide choice of selection to take your pick.
Cooking with Chirimen-jako & Mentaiko.
Almost no or very little heat is required when comes to cooking with Mentaiko. It can be quite tricky – because Mentaiko has a tendency to turn hard, opaque and less tasty when exposed to too much heat.
Whereas for Chirimen-jako, they are much easier to handle. If you prefer a crunchy texture, just leave them longer under the heat and they will dry up and become harder.
So here’s the recipe I wanted to share with you today. It’s really easy and you can make at home anytime!
Spicy Mentaiko Spaghetti
For a 2-3 persons’ share
Prep time 10-15 mins, cook time 15-20 mins
To save/print recipe, click here.
What You Need
80g of raw Mentaiko, spicy Cod Roe
15g of Chirimen-jako, tiny White Sardines (optional)
20g of Olive Oil
200g of Dried Spaghetti
A Handful of Daikon Radish Sprouts
A Handful of Kizami-nori, Shredded Seaweed
A pinch of salt to taste
Boil a big pot of water and throw in spaghetti together with a handful of salt when water comes to a boil. Stir occasionally to keep noodles from sticking to each other. Follow instruction on the package for recommended cooking time.
I like to cook spaghetti al dente but you can adjust according to your own preference. Take a few strands out to try before removing them completely from the pot. Transfer to a large bowl and mix cooked spaghetti well with olive oil (10g). Set aside to cool.
2-Scrape out Mentaiko from sac.
Mentaiko comes in sacs. Look out for a slit that found on each sac. Place that side, facing upwards, on a plate or chopping board. Then holding one end of it, gently scrape out the bits from the thin membrane sac with a spoon. Transfer them to a bowl and mix well with half a portion of olive oil (10g). Discard the membrane.
3-Prep radish sprouts and sauté Chirimen-jako with butter.
Take a handful bunch of radish sprouts out from wrapper, cut away the roots and soak briefly in water before draining well with a colander or even better, dry with a kitchen towel.
Under medium-low heat, warm up a pan and melt the butter. Then pour in Chirimen-jako and gently sauté with the butter. Stir from time to time to prevent from burnt. Remove from heat after 2-3 minutes and leave to cool.
4-Mix all ingredients with Spaghetti.
In the bowl of spaghetti, add in sautéed Chirimen-jako and Mentaiko. Mix everything well and even, in between sprinkle some salt to taste. Lastly throw in radish sprouts to give you some greens and folate .
5-Ready to serve.
Pick up your favourite plates, divide the portion into 2 and serve. Sprinkle some Kizami-nori on top for extra flavour if desired.
Mentaiko stains easily, it might be a good idea to lay a piece of parchment or wax paper over your chopping board or plate as a form of protection when handling it.
If you turn up the heat too hot, Chirimen-jako in the pan may “jump out” easily, moderate the heat appropriately.
Kizami-nori gets soggy over a period of time, if you prefer crispy ones – sprinkle them on only just before serving.
What do I like about this dish?
I often run out of time to do my housework, albeit being a stay-at-home-mother. That’s why I’m totally into this kind of quick and easy-to-make dishes.
Not only I can prepare ahead, I don’t have to worry it will become soft and soggy over the course of time. Since this is “cream-less”, it also means lighter in calories – best for someone like me who is on a long-term diet plan!
If you wonder how would it taste when it turned cold – it still tastes excellent, hence I think it would make an ideal dish for anyone to take along to potluck parties.
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To save/print recipe, click here.