Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Recipe: Mentaiko Pasta

My sister has posted an earlier recipe for mentaiko pasta, but I thought I'd share my version, which is less rich and more similar to carbonara. Since it's called mentaiko pasta, you can conceivably use any type of pasta, though I feel that noodles like spaghettini or linguini are preferable to pasta like fusilli. The Japanese ingredients are available in most good supermarkets, as well as those that have dedicated Japanese sections like Cold Storage Takashimaya, Meidi-Ya and Isetan.

Mentaiko Pasta (Serves 2)
200g pasta
2 sacs of mentaiko
100g shimeji mushrooms
1 Tbsp of minced garlic
1 Tbsp Japanese mayonnaise
1 Tbsp sake
1 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 tsp mirin
1 egg
Olive oil
Tobiko and cilantro to garnish

Boil up some salted water in which to cook your pasta. While the water is boiling, crack the egg into a bowl and whisk with a fork till the egg white is farily incorporated into the yolk.

Add the Japanese mayonnaise, sake, vinegar and mirin, and gently stir until all the liquids homogenise and you obtain a fairly smooth, milky liquid.

Using a knife, slit open the sacs of mentaiko and scrape out the roe with the back of the knife, dropping the red fish eggs into the bowl containing your egg-mayonnaise-vinegar-sake-mirin mixture.

Gently stir the mixture with a fork in order to incorporate the roe and create a thick suspension. Do not whip the mixture vigorously as you might cause the tiny eggs to burst.

At this point, the pot of salted water should be boiling, and you can add the pasta. Since the preparation of the mentaiko sauce takes less than 5 minutes (on a gas stove; if you're using an electric hob it might take considerably longer), you should start cooking it when your pasta is about 3 or 4 minutes away from being done.

Heat up the olive oil in a saucepan or frying pan, and add the minced garlic. Lightly fry till the garlic is golden and shimmering, but not browned.

Add the mushrooms and fry these too. Shimeji mushrooms don't require much cooking, so be careful not to overcook them - they only need half a minute or so.

By now the pasta should be almost cooked (you're aiming to undercook it and finish it in the pan, so it shouldn't even be exactly al dente). If it's still not quite done, you can take the saucepan off the heat till the pasta is ready. Once the pasta is ready, either strain it in a colander or using a pasta spoon and add it to the pan with the garlic and mushrooms.

Taking the saucepan off the heat, pour in the bowl of mentaiko sauce, and the residual heat of the pasta will cook it without curdling the eggs. Mix or toss the pasta in the pan to ensure that all the noodle strands are evenly coated.

Plate up, garnish with a small pinch of tobiko and a sprig or two of cilantro, and enjoy immediately.

1 comment:

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