Tarako (Cod Roe Pasta) with Wasabi Mashed Sweet Potatoes

You may recall a previous post called “Mentaiko” which I mistakenly named as such. In fact, I had make Tarako…just plain cod roe pasta. Mentaiko is the spicy version. Since Japan, it’s become almost an obsession of mine and I find myself picking up the ready made packets whenever I find them. I’ve also been scoping out Japanese restaurants that make it fresh. So far, I’ve found two. There’s Basta Pasta on E. 17 which boasts fresh Italian food with a Japanese flair. All their pasta is fresh and the decor is wonderfully Japanese. Though, I have to say their Tarako was disappointing. On the menu it’s listed as “Spaghetti con Uova di Pesca – Spaghetti with tobiko (flying fish roe) & shiso” for $16.00. First off all, a bit pricey. Second of all, it was very watery. The fish roe definitely were fresh and had the characteristic delightful pop sensation when ground between the teeth. But the watery nature of the sauce and the lack of some binder like cream or mayonnaise made it disappointing. The shiso was also a bit intense for the delicately salty eggs. Though I would definitely come back for the atmosphere and the cocktails.

The second place I’ve had Tarako is called Hiroko’s Place  and here is where the true flavors of the dish are executed perfectly. The place itself is right out of Tokyo and the prices are good for Soho. I happened upon this place accidentally and immediately made plans with a friend to try it. Here the Tarako was delightfully creamy with traditional seaweed flakes on top. If you don’t feel like trying to make Tarako yourself, definitely check out Hiroko’s Place.

However, if you want to try it, fish ovaries and all….here is the recipe with some inspirational pics. At first I was skeptical about finding Tarako at even a Japanese market and feared it might expensive. However, some recipe i read pointed out that it’s usually in the freezer.

I also discovered some INCREDIBLE Japanese Tarako commercials. Points if you can learn the tarako dance. http://youtu.be/It_Fxw3FBmE 

I also endeavored to update my wasabi mashed potatoes recipe, replacing the potatoes with Japanese sweet potatoes. The result was an astounding flavor of hot and sweet. You’ll find the recipe further down. These potatoes are purple on the outside and yellow on the inside, though the flesh turns an odd green color when exposed to oxygen. I’ve loved these potatoes since my macrobiotic days found this incredible recipe in Gourmet ages ago and it’s remained a standard in my weeknight repertoire. Here’s the link: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Roasted-Japanese-Sweet-Potatoes-with-Scallion-Butter-240549


Serves 2

You will need:

2 servings of spaghetti

1 sack tarako

1 pinch red pepper flakes (I mean just a tiny pinch…like maybe 12 flakes)

1/2 cup half and half

2 Tbs butter

2 cloves garlic (chopped into tiny bits)

1 Tbs nori flakes or chopped basil or even arugula


1. Cook the spaghetti and set aside with a splash of olive oil to prevent sticking.

2. Warm the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and fry for a minute or so and then add the tarako and pepper flakes. Cook for another minute, then add the half and half. Turn the heat down and stir regularly. Add more butter or cream if the sauce isn’t thin enough.

3. Add the pasta directly into the pan and stir to coat. Add the nori or basil at the last minute before serving. I think the basil was an absolutely incredible addition. You’re basically making carbonara with fish eggs instead of ham.

Wasabi Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Serves 2

You will need:

2 japanese sweet potatoes (little ones)

1 small regular potato (this adds some starchyness, but go ahead and use three sweet potatoes if you wish)

1 Tbs butter

1 teaspoon wasabi powder

1/4 cup half and half.


1. Peel the potatoes and cut into large cubes. Add to a medium pot of boiling water. Cook until very tender, about twenty minutes.

2. Mash the potatoes slightly in a bowl with a fork with the butter. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a food processor and add a pinch of salt. Add the wasabi powder and cream. Pulse until entirely blended.

5 thoughts on “Tarako (Cod Roe Pasta) with Wasabi Mashed Sweet Potatoes

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