Mentaiko ankake udon is a delicious noodle soup dish made with chewy udon noodles served in a thick broth flavored with spicy pollock roe, rich dashi and silky egg. It's packed with umami yet the flavor is subtle and comforting. It's seriously addictive!
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What is Mentaiko Udon?
Mentaiko udon (明太子うどん) is a noodle dish made with udon, a thick Japanese noodle made with wheat flour, and spicy cod roe we call "mentaiko". Mentaiko is a seafood ingredient made by marinating pollock roes in salt and adding chili peppers. Originally from Korea, mentaiko was introduced to Japan and has been modified to suit Japanese tastes, for example, by reducing the spiciness. In Japan, Hakata in Fukuoka Prefecture is most famous for its mentaiko.
There are actually three different types of mentaiko udon:
- Mentaiko kamatama udon (明太子釜玉うどん) - where cooked udon noodles are mixed with raw egg and mentaiko.
- Mentaiko udon (明太子うどん) - where cooked udon noodles are mixed with mentaiko, butter and shirodashi (a concentrated soup base made with light soy sauce and dashi). Sometimes cream is added to make it more like a pasta sauce similar to mentaiko pasta.
- Mentaiko ankake udon (明太子あんかけうどん) - where the cooked udon noodles are served in a thick dashi stock and flavored with mentaiko.
The ankake udon soup introduced here is characterized by a thick and gentle taste with egg, and is very easy to eat! My recipe is inspired by the mentaiko udon served at a high-end Japanese udon restaurant called "Tsurutontan", which also has several locations in the United States.
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Udon noodles - I recommend fresh or frozen udon for the best chewy texture. I personally use frozen sanuki udon and heat it in the microwave (so convenient!).
- Mentaiko - If you do not like spicy food, you can substitute tarako (cod roe without chili).
- Eggs - This is an essential ingredient for making a delicious ankake soup.
- Dashi broth - This broth is the base of mentaiko udon. Choose from dashi made with dried bonito flakes and kelp, or vegetarian dashi made with kelp and shiitake mushrooms. You could also use instant dashi or dashi bags if you like.
- Sake - If you do not have it, substitute white wine or dry sherry.
- Mirin - Choosing the right mirin can be tricky, as there are various "mirin-style condiments" that are not true mirin. When purchasing mirin, it is recommended to look for "hon mirin" (本みりん) for the best flavor. In the US, Hinode Hon Mirin is a high-quality and affordable option. Another premium hon mirin available on Amazon US is Kokonoe Jun Mikawa Hon Mirin. If you prefer a more budget-friendly option that is not hon mirin, Kikkoman's Manjo Aji Mirin would be a suitable choice.
- Light soy sauce - If you want to know more about soy sauce used for Japanese cooking, please see my 20 Most Useful Condiments and Seasonings for Japanese Cooking post.
- Salt - Regular sea salt or your usual cooking salt works fine.
- Potato starch - This is used to make the soup thick, and can be substituted with other starches, such as cornstarch.
- Perilla leaves - known as shiso or ooba (大葉) in Japanese, this unique leaf adds a peppery and refreshing flavor.
I have listed my recommended Japanese condiments, tools, and ingredients in the Sudachi Recipes Amazon shop. If you want to keep making various Japanese foods at home, please check it out!
Mentaiko is sold in sacs, so make a horizontal incision with a sharp knife, open it up and scoop out the roe using a spoon. Set aside about 1 tbsp of mentaiko per portion for garnish at the end.
Whisk the egg in a bowl, then add the mentaiko and mix well.
Add the dashi, sake, mirin, sugar, light soy sauce and salt to a saucepan and bring to a boil over a medium heat.
While you're waiting for the broth to boil, cook the udon noodles separately following the instructions on the packaging. Mix the potato starch and cold water in a small bowl to make a slurry. This will make the soup thick and glossy.
Making the slurry in a separate bowl will prevent lumps of potato starch in your broth!
Once the broth is boiling, turn the heat down to a simmer and add the slurry. Heat for a few minutes or until the broth has thickened slightly and then pour in the egg mixture.
Simmer with a lid for 30 seconds.
After 30 seconds, take off the lid and turn off the heat.
Rinse the cooked udon with hot water to remove any excess starch and divide them into serving bowls.
Fill each bowl with an equal amount of broth.
Top with sliced perilla leaves and the mentaiko you saved from earlier.
Unfortunately, like other soupy noodle dishes, mentaiko udon is not suitable for storage because the noodles will become soggy.
However, if only the soup is to be stored, it will keep for a day or so in refrigeration. It is best to transfer it to a storage container and seal it, then reheat it on the stove while mixing.
I hope you enjoy this warm and comforting mentaiko udon recipe! If you try it out, I'd really appreciate it if you could spare a moment to let me know what you thought by giving a review and star rating in the comments below. It's also helpful to share any adjustments you made to the recipe with other readers. Thank you so much!
Mentaiko Udon (Cod Roe Ankake Udon)
- Cut the sac of 100 g spicy cod roe "mentaiko" lengthways, peel back the skin and scoop out the roe with a spoon. Set aside 1 tbsp per portion for garnish at the end.
- Mix 2 medium egg(s) and the mentaiko in a bowl until well incorporated.
- In a saucepan, add 500ml dashi stock, 2 tbsp sake, 1 tbsp mirin, 1 tsp sugar, 1 tbsp light soy sauce and ½ tsp salt. Bring to boil over medium heat.
- While you're waiting for the broth to boil, mix 1 tbsp potato starch and 1 tbsp cold water in a small bowl to make a slurry. Cook 3 portions udon noodles in a separate pot according to the instructions on the packaging.
- Once the broth is boiling, turn the heat down to a simmer and add the slurry. When the broth has slightly thickened, pour in the whisked egg and mentaiko mix.
- Place a lid on the pan and simmer for 30 seconds.
- Turn off the heat and take off the lid.
- Rinse the udon with hot water to remove any excess starch and divide into serving bowls.
- Pour the broth equally into the bowls.
- Garnish with shredded perilla leaves and the leftover mentaiko from earlier.
What does Mentaiko udon taste like?
There are many different types of mentaiko udon noodles, so it is hard to generalize, but the mentaiko udon I make is a dish with just the right amount of sweetness and subtle mentaiko textures and flavors intertwined.
What is Mentai udon?
It refers to an udon dish made with mentaiko (cod roe).
What does mentaiko taste like?
The flavor of mentaiko is often described as salty, savory, and slightly spicy.