Mentaiko (Pollock roe) is the roe of Alaska Pollock. Salted Pollock roe is a popular culinary ingredient in Korean, Japanese, and Russian cuisines.
Mentaiko is identical to tarako in that it is a sack of salted cod roe, but differ from tarako in that the roe is marinated in different seasonings and spices to create an array of subtly different flavor profiles. You’ll find that raw mentaiko is offered in different colors, ranging from a muted pink to bright red, depending on the food manufacturer. Mentaiko is sometimes referred to as “karashi mentaiko”.
“Karashi” in Japanese means spicy. Karashi Mentaiko is the spicy version of mentaiko which is seasoned with red chili pepper spices, as well as rolled intogarashi, or Japanese red chili pepper, for an extra kick.
Karashi mentaiko is sold raw in varying degrees of spiciness and hues of red or dark pink. In Japanese, spicy cod roe is also referred to as simply “mentaiko”.
Mentaiko is packed with flavors of sea. It’s salty and filled with seafood essence, but I wouldn’t go so far as to label it as “fishy”.
When cooked encased in the sac membrane, the tiny roe becomes a rich and thick, almost paste-like texture. It’s can be hearty. When the roe is eaten raw, they tiny eggs create an almost sauce-like texture.
If you like Mentaiko, you will like our spicy capelin roe cub with mayonnaise.