Who Ever Thought Mentaiko Would Work So Well with Mac & Cheese?

February 27, 2020

Lately it’s been trendy to turn any popular snack into fusion with the addition of a completely unexpected traditional Asian ingredient. Case in point: the mentaiko pasta. Called myeongranjeot in Korea, mentaiko is the marinated roe of cod and pollock. Its characteristically fishy taste works surprisingly well not only as a replacement for anchovies in pasta, but also as a salad topping, baguette filling, or french fry dip. A spoonful of mentaiko sprinkled over a covering of baked cheese or mayonnaise dip is bound to tease your tongue with pricks of sea-saltiness, which is why we wanted to find out if it’s a good addition to the macaroni and cheese we’ve grown up with.


The verdict? It’s great. For those who are used to drowning their macaroni in thick, creamy cheese, the mentaiko makes a good, fishy complement. For some it can be an umay breaker, but at the same time it does not overpower the taste and creaminess of the cheese. The roe has an interesting texture as well, and after each spoonful you might find yourself playing with the little round beads on your tongue. Give the roe a bite, and a gust of flavour will burst forth. Add some good ole macaroni into the fishy, cheesy creaminess, and you’ll have an international fiesta in your own little bowl.


Mentaiko Mac and Cheese

Total time: 20 minutes (10, mins prep, 10 mins cooking)
Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients: Mac and Cheese

  • 4 cups macaroni, cooked
  • 2-3 tbsp ebiko, for topping

Ingredients: Mentaiko Cheese Sauce

  • 1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1/4 cup Cheez Whiz
  • 1 cup cream or milk
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • 1 tbsp mentaiko
  • 1/4 cup japanese mayo
  • 1/4 cup mentaiko, additional


  1. In a sauce pan, simmer together all ingredients for mentaiko cheese sauce.
  2. Toss together cooked macaroni and warm mentaiko cheese sauce. transfer to serving bowls and top generously with ebiko.
  3. Serve warm.
Carmel Ilustrisimo SEE AUTHOR Carmel Ilustrisimo

Carmel Ilustrisimo is currently majoring in Creative Writing. When she's not busy experimenting on bread, she's binge-watching Korean dramas, editing fan videos, or playing food apps. Her more serious hobbies include reading about history and writing scripts for screen and theatre. She plans to tour the world and taste a dessert delicacy from every country when she's older and more financially stable.

4 comments in this post SHOW

4 responses to “Who Ever Thought Mentaiko Would Work So Well with Mac & Cheese?”

  1. Karen says:

    Where can you buy mentaiko here in Manila? 🙂

    • Mikka Wee says:

      Hi Karen! You may get them from Japanese groceries such as New Hatchin in San Antonio Village, Makati. 🙂

  2. leeflailmarch says:

    Shoot! Drools.

  3. Clarissa Villaverde says:

    Just made some bottarga, which is kinda like mentaiko. 🙂 cool.

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