Rapido e facile Pasta Aglio Olio con Mentaiko


She looked at me and asked, “I’m hungry, do you have any leftover mentaiko pasta?”

I had neither leftover nor any softened butter on hand, therefore with 3 remaining sacs of Mentaiko, I made pasta Aglio e Olio con Mentaiko…

Quick & Easy Garlic Oil Pasta with Mentaiko

The role of Mentaiko here is to substitute the traditional grated cheese for umami. Indeed, when blanched with hot oil, the Mentaiko crisps slightly and the flavor intensifies so much that even crispy bacon is extraneous.

This dish is very ingredient-driven where quality cannot be masked, so I would recommend you can use the finest olive oil you have, which in my case was the Frantoio Portofino San Massimo Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

Ingredients: (serves two)

  • 3 sacs of Mentaiko
  • 1 tbsp (15ml) of Hon-Mirin
  • 2 cloves of garlic (smashed)
  • 3 tbsp (45ml) of good olive oil
  • 200g of flat pasta (Tagliatelle or Bavette)
  • Italian Parsley (recommended)
  • Crispy bacon bits (optional)


  1. Put pasta in boiling salted water
  2. De-sac Mentaiko into a large deep bowl, add the Hon-Mirin and stir gently to break up the roe
  3. Heat up pan till hot and add the olive oil
  4. When olive oil is hot, add the garlic cloves
  5. When the olive oil has been aromatized by the garlic, remove the garlic cloves and turn off the heat
  6. When the olive oil has cooled a little, pour the slightly hot oil slowly into the bowl of marinated Mentaiko and stir to integrate
  7. Drain pasta, add to the bowl and toss vigorously
  8. Serve immediately with a garnishing of crispy bacon and Italian Parsley


  • Adding the marinated Mentaiko to the hot oil is dangerous because the oil will start to spit vigorously.
  • Adding the hot oil to the marinated Mentaiko will still cause some spitting, so be careful and let the oil cool a little and add slowly, a dribble at a time, to the Mentaiko.
  • Smash the garlic cloves with the flat of your knife. Using a garlic press results in a garlic oil that’s slightly acrid.
  • You lose quite a bit of spiciness when you blanch the Mentaiko, so at step 4, you can add a small pinch of chili flakes to the hot oil along with the garlic to spice it up but drain it out along with the garlic before blanching.
  • After distributing the pasta, if you find oil pooling at the bottom of the bowl, it means you’ve used too much oil. Spread the remnants on bread and toast in an oven because there’s good eating in that.
  • Smash Garlic and the Dangerous Mentaikos would be a great name for a rock band.


This was her first Mentaiko pasta. Her reaction was similar to mine when I first encountered the Mentaiko Pasta done by Chef Anderson Ho; it was an incredulous “is this it?”

To be perfectly clear, it was not a reaction to Chef Ho’s cooking (which I think is excellent and innovative) but more of my expectation, hoisted high by numerous enthusiastic bloggers, meeting reality.


Posted on 23rd Jun 2010 in Fusion, Italian, Japanese, Recipes


There Are 6 Comments


[…] the end, I have two recipes to share: oil-based similar to the one from Le Papillon and a butter-based. For the oil-based version, which you can […]


Camemberu commented on June 24, 2010 at 2:47 am

“Spitting Hot Mentaikos” would be great for a crazy rock girl group!

I’m very tempted to try this fast and easy mentaiko pasta! From the prep description alone, you can imagine teh awesome flavours. Only…no one else will eat mentaiko at my household. Hmmm, maybe I train my young padawans…


carrie commented on June 24, 2010 at 5:25 pm

So going to try this! You are my new food guru hero!


food.recentrunes.com | Mentaiko Toast commented on June 25, 2010 at 3:08 pm

[…] sauce in the bowl, you can use a piece of bread to mop up the remnants. And yes, it works with the Garlic Oil Mentaiko mix too. And, OK, if you want a slightly creamy toast, you can toss in a small dollop of the […]


Simon Tan commented on August 9, 2010 at 1:17 pm

A less exciting method is to grill the mentaiko and then crumble it like bottarga. Do it over wood or charcoal for that extra smoky flava.
Me?..I would slice my mentaiko, grill it lightly and serve it beside the pasta, intact. One fork of pasta, a bite of mentaiko.


Ivan commented on August 9, 2010 at 1:21 pm

@Simon Tan: I skewered the Mentaiko and grilled it over an open flame but it fell apart mid-way. Alas. Back to the drawing board.

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