Monday, February 8, 2010

ポテトチップス 明太 マヨネーズ味

You've got to love a culture that eats cod roe. In Greece, cod roe is increasingly used for taramasolata, the traditional dip originally and still sometimes made with carp roe. In Sweden, one can get cod roe in a tube. Mighty tasty squeezed onto a peice of knacke. And in Japan it seems to be everywhere. Plain (鱈子/tarako) or spicy (明太子/mentaiko), it shows up on many a dinner plate, either served with a side of mayo or in one of the most incredible crossover dishes ever, pasta with tarako sauce. And now in chips.

However, one must remain a little skeptical when Calbee's Mentai-Mayonaise Flavor Potato Chips (ポテトチップス 明太 マヨネーズ味) ingredients include mentaiko and mayonaise powder. Why, in the name of absolute control do industrial food companies insist on powdering, agglomerating or otherwise changing the basic nature of foodstuffs until they are nothing but unrecognizable additives that add up, ultimately, to a much lesser experience. And perhaps a little bit of a bad taste in one's mouth.

Calbee's recent offering in its Paripari (パリパリ/crisp) line of so-called adult flavors is neither all that reminiscent of mentaiko nor mayo. The chips themselves are decently fried super-slim slices of real potato. The flavor additives seem to be a bit of an afterthought. A slight hint of cod roe, a whiff of mayo and a longer lasting mild burn of hot pepper. But if you're looking for a real mentaiko experience, leave the chips on the shelf and go for something like mentaiko pasta.

Here's my recipe. It's about as simple as one gets

Mentaiko Cream Pasta

Serves 2

linguini or spaghetti

200 - 300 grams mentaiko
2 T unsalted butter
2 T finely chopped onion
250 ml cream (butterfat content to your desire)
shoyu to taste
shredded nori
finely chopped negi (Japanese leek)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add pasta. Cook for appropriate doneness.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a skillet. Add finely chopped onions. Cook 2-3 minutes until soft. Add cream and bring to a low simmer while stirring with a whisk. Reduce cream to about 1/2. Scrape mentaiko from its connective membrane and add to reduced cream and onion mixture and mix until evenly distributed through the mixture. Add shoyu to taste.

In a large bowl, mix with cooked pasta. Transfer to serving plates or platter and garnish liberally with nori and chopped negi.

This can be done in about 9 - 13 minutes. It's that easy!