First of all, I’ll be honest, that’s not a picture of my spaghetti with mentaiko cream sauce. I was hungry, and my spaghetti wasn’t about to sit around and wait until I took it’s picture, so I ate it. But it was so good that I thought I should share the recipe, so here’s a picture of spaghetti with mentaiko cream sauce at Mashimo restaurant. (theirs also looks a bit prettier than mine)
My local grocery store, Apita, had a big Kyushu food festival over the weekend, which meant there were lots of vendors with famous products from Kyushu like black sugar, sweet potato desserts, tonkotsu ramen, mugi miso, and mentaiko. Mentaiko are pollock or cod eggs that are marinated with chiles, and a famous product of Fukuoka City in Kyushu. The mentaiko looked pretty good, and I had regretted not buying some when I was in Kyushu last fall, so I decided to make spaghetti with mentaiko cream sauce for dinner. These were salty, savory, and spicy, but not too spicy.
I noticed a jar of capers in the pantry when I was getting out the spaghetti and thought that the salty flavor of capers would go well with the mentaiko so I chopped up a spoonful of those and added them too. It wasn’t until after I had put the mentaiko into the hot oil that I realized that I should have removed the eggs from the membranes first. Oops. (RECIPE UPDATE: I made this again and decided that it is much better to stir the mentaiko in just before serving so that they stay raw. They are less tough and more flavorful this way.) After letting the eggs and capers cook for a few seconds in a mix of olive oil and butter, I added some milk and cream and simmered in briefly to make a sauce. Finally I stirred in the pasta and some chopped parsley and it was ready to eat. Simple and delicious!
Spaghetti with Mentaiko Cream Sauce (UPDATED RECIPE!)
by Laurel Swift
100 grams mentaiko
1 clove garlic, grated on microplane or oroshi-ki
1 teaspoon salt-packed capers, rinsed and chopped
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 to 2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup milk and cream, mixed to your taste
200 grams spaghetti
chopped fresh parsley
Heat a large pot salted of water to a boil.
Remove mentaiko eggs from the membrane. Soak the membranes in the milk and cream that you’ll use for the sauce to save any remaining flavorful goodness. Discard the membranes.
Heat the butter and olive oil in a large frying pan or pot (A wide-bottomed pot with high sides is actually good here because the mentaiko have a tendency to pop and jump when the hit the hot oil). Add the garlic and capers and brown for about 30 seconds. Add the milk and cream. Simmer for a minute or two until slightly thickened. Turn off heat until the pasta is ready.
While you’re cooking the sauce, add the spaghetti to the pot. Cook until al dente. Drain the pasta, reserving some of the cooking water.
Add the cooked pasta to the pan of sauce and gently cook in the sauce for about a minute. Add some of the reserved pasta water or some milk if the sauce isn’t liquid enough. Just before serving add the mentaiko and stir until they are evenly incorporated. Sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley and serve.