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Mentaiko (明太子?) is the marinated roe of pollock and cod is a common ingredient in Japanese cuisine. Mentaiko originated from myeongnan jeot of Korea Jeotgal which explains the reason 明太 is pronounced Mentai, an adopted pronunciation of Myeongtae in Korean, and was introduced to Japan after the Russo-Japanese War. Toshio Kawahara (川原 俊夫 Kawahara Toshio?), a Busan-born Japanese, adapted Korean mentaiko to Japanese tastes in Fukuoka in the 1949. The typical seasoning and flavor is different in Japan.[1][2]

Mentaiko is made in a variety of flavors and colors and is available at airports and main train stations. It is usually eaten with onigiri, but is also enjoyed by itself with sake. A common variety is spicy mentaiko (辛子明太子 karashi mentaiko?). It is a product of the Hakata ward of Fukuoka City.

Recently in Japan, mentaiko pasta has become very common and popular. Mentaiko is mixed with butter or mayonnaise and used as a sauce for spaghetti. Thin strips of Nori are often sprinkled on top.

Mentaiko was nominated as Japan's number one side dish in the Japanese weekly magazine, Shūkan Bunshun.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hangul명란젓; RRMyeongnanjeot.
  2. ^ (Korean) Introducing Fukuya.
  3. ^ Ahn (안), Min-jeong (민정) (2011-05-06). 일본인 좋아하는 밥반찬에 한국의 그것?. JPNews (in Korean). Retrieved 2011-12-08.