Recipe: Mentaiko Pasuta from Tokyo Local by Caryn and Brendan Liew »

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Mentaiko Pasta,Tokyo Local

Mentaiko Pasta,Tokyo Local [©Smith Street Books ]

<i>Tokyo Local</i> by Caryn and Brendan Liew


Tokyo has an amazing mix of street foods that honours the traditional along with the modern. In Tokyo Local, Caryn and Brendan Liew bring this food-lovers paradise into your kitchen.

In her review, Robyn said this book is fun and inspiring with the recipes generally achievable. If you've always been intimidated by Japanese food, now might just be the time to change that explore some dishes that reflect the country's intriguing culture. 

 Caryn and Brendan write:

Mentaiko Pasuta

Mentaiko pasta is said to have been invented in Tokyo in the 1960s by a tiny store selling wafu pasta – Italian pasta with Japanese toppings.

It is a seemingly strange combination: spicy pollock roe with soy sauce, aonori (powdered seaweed flakes) and butter, but have a taste and you’ll find that it’s incredibly addictive.

The spicy, salty mentaiko gives the dish a wonderful depth and umami, in the same way that karasumi (bottarga) and caviar can change a simple pasta’s flavour dramatically.

The dish can get rather rich, so the sharp, citrusy tang of lemon and the distinctive herbal taste of shiso (perilla) leaf are essential to cut through it.

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • 180 g (6¼ oz) dried spaghetti
  • 60 g (2 oz) mentaiko (spicy pollock roe), plus extra to serve
  • 30 g (1 oz) unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 50 ml (1¾ floz) cream (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 bunch shiso (perilla) leaves, shredded
  • 1 teaspoon aonori (powdered seaweed flakes)
  • ½ lemon, cut into wedges
  • 1 tablespoon kizaminori (finely shredded nori)
  • ½ cucumber, julienned 


  1. Cook the pasta to your liking, according to the instructions on the packet.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, combine the mentaiko, butter, soy sauce, cream (if using) and pepper in a large bowl.
  3. Reserve 250 ml (8½ floz/1 cup) pasta water before draining the spaghetti. Add the pasta to the mentaiko mixture and combine, adding enough of the reserved pasta water to create a velvety sauce.
  4. Divide between two bowls and top with the remaining ingredients. 

This recipe is from Tokyo Local by Caryn Liew and Brendan Liew and reproduced here with the kind permission of the publisher.

 Tokyo Local – Cult Recipes from the Streets that Make the City by Caryn Liew and Brendan Liew is published by Smith Street Books and distributed by Simon & Shuster (Melbourne, May 2018; hc; 224 pp) and retails in Australia for RRP A$39.99.

Read Robyn's full review of Tokyo Local »

View the press release »

See links below for further recipes.


  • japan-all (JP)

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August 08th, 2018
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