Pollock roe

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Pollock roe
Myeongnanjeot (pollock roe) 4.jpg
Alternative names Myeongnan, myeongnan-jeot, mentaiko, ikra mintaya
Type Jeotgal
Course Banchan
Place of origin Korea
Main ingredients roe of Alaska pollock
Cookbook: Pollock roe  Media: Pollock roe
Regional names
Korean name (pollock roe)
Hangul 명란
Literal meaning pollock roe
Korean name (salted pollock roe)
Hangul 명란젓
Literal meaning pollock roe jeotgal
Japanese name (salted pollock roe)
Kanji 明太子
Kana めんたいこ
Japanese name (spicy salted pollock roe)
Kanji 辛子明太子
Kana からしめんたいこ
Japanese name (mild salted pollock roe)
Kanji 鱈子
Kana たらこ
Russian name (salted pollock roe)
Russian икра минтая
Romanization ikra mintaya

Pollock roe is the roe of Alaska pollock (Gadus chalcogrammus). Salted pollock roe is a popular culinary ingredient in Korean, Japanese, and Russian cuisines. In Korea, pollock roe is called myeongnan (명란), while the salted roe dish is called myeongnan-jeot (명란젓), being considered a type of jeotgal (salted seafood). The food was introduced to Japan after World War II, and is called mentaiko (明太子) in Japanese. In Russia, it is called ikra mintaya (икра минтая).


The Korean word myeongnan (명란) means pollock roe as myeong () came from myeongtae (명태), the Korean word for Alaska pollocks, and ran (), also pronounced nan, means "egg (roe)". As jeot () is a category of salted seafood, the compound myeongnan-jeot (명란젓) refers to salted pollock roe.

The Japanese word mentaiko (明太子) is also a compound. Although Alaska pollocks are called suketōdara (介党鱈) in Japanese, mentai (明太) here, borrowed from its Korean cognate myeongtae (명태), refers to Alaska pollock. Ko () is the Japanese word for "child (roe)".

The Russian word ikra (икра) means "roe" and mintaya (минтая) is the singular genitive form of mintay (минтай), which means Alaska pollock. The word also derived from its Korean cognate, myeongtae (명태).



Koreans have been enjoying pollock roe since the Joseon era. One of the earliest mentions are from Seungjeongwon ilgi (Journal of the Royal Secretariat), where a 1652 entry stated: "The management administration should be strictly interrogated for bringing in pollock roe instead of cod roe."[1] Recipe for salted pollock roe is found in a 19th-century cookbook, Siuijeonseo.


Mentaiko originates from Korea and is originally the Korean myeongnan-jeot.[2][3][4][5][6][7]

Toshio Kawahara (川原 俊夫, Kawahara Toshio), who was born in the city of Busan, Korea during the Japanese occupation, founded the oldest mentaiko company in Japan called "Aji no Mentaiko Fukuya" after World War II. He made slight modifications to myeongnan-jeot to adapt to Japanese tastes and introduced it to Japan as "mentaiko". The milder, less spicy version is called tarako (鱈子) in Japan.

Preparation and culinary use[edit]


Traditionally, myeongnan-jeot was made before dongji (winter solstice). Intact skeins of Alaska pollock roe are washed carefully with salt water, then salted in a sokuri (bamboo basket). The ratio of salt to roe ranges from less than 5:100 to more than 15:100. After 2-3 days, salted and drained roe is marinated for at least a day with fine gochutgaru (chilli powder) and finely minced garlic. myeongnan-jeot is usually served with some drops of sesame oil.

Myeongnan-jeot, whether raw, dried, and/or cooked, is a common banchan (side dish) and anju (food served with alcoholic beverages). It is also used in a variety of dishes, such as gyeran-jjim (steamed egg), bokkeum-bap (fried rice), and recently in Korean-style Italian pasta dishes.

Myeongnan-jeot is a specialty of South Hamgyong Province of North Korea, and Gangwon Province and Busan of South Korea.


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.[8]


In Russia, pollock roe is consumed as a sandwich spread. The product, resembling liquid paste due to the small size of eggs and oil added, is sold canned.


See also[edit]


External links[edit]

  • Media related to Mentaiko at Wikimedia Commons