Spice up your mentaiko exactly how you want it!

Mentaiko, also known as spicy cod roe, is a popular side dish, topping, and filling in Japan. Usually seasoned and spiced with red pepper flakes, it’s popular as a savory and spicy complement to white rice, perfect as a topping for a bowl of rice or stuffed into a rice ball.

But different people have different preferences for their mentaiko. Some like it extra spicy, some prefer it with more salt, and some want additional seasonings. It’s hard to find one that fits your exact tastes from the supermarket…so why not make it yourself?

Fukuoka-based mentaiko maker Fukutaro is now selling “Tezukuri (DIY) Mentaiko Kits” which will let you do just that. It comes with a special katsuo bonito-flavored sauce, which is only available with this kit, and three choices of seasoning: sliced kelp, shichimi red pepper blend, and red yuzu (a Japanese citrus fruit) and black pepper. Four pieces of their special cod roe, which is known as “Koumi Mentai” and which has no spices or artificial colors added, are also included in the kit, so you don’t even have to go out and buy some yourself!

With so many options, you have the opportunity to mix and match flavors and create a mentaiko style that works for you. For example, if you like it super spicy, you can use all of the shichimi red pepper blend and yuzu black pepper topping and none of the kelp or sauce. Or if you want a more balanced flavor, you can use a little of all four flavors. It’s totally up to you.

The Tezukuri Mentaiko Kit retails for 2,052 yen (US$19.49), and can be found at stores directly operated by Fukutaro or online at Fukutaro’s online shop. The online shop is currently offering a campaign where, if you spend more than 5,400 yen in one order, shipping throughout the country, including to typically up-charged destinations like Okinawa and Hokkaido, is only 330 yen. That’s valid for orders placed by August 31, so if you’re a mentaiko fan, you might want to take advantage.

But if you’ve never actually tried mentaiko before, then it might be best for your first taste to be seasoned by a chef. For that you will want to go the Hakata area of Fukuoka City in western Japan. Since that’s where Japan’s iteration of spicy cod roe comes from, you’ll for sure get the best flavors there!

Source, images: Fukutaro Online Shop
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