Prepare your blow torch and impress your friends by making this easy Beef Mentaiko Rice Bowl in just less than 30 minutes.
Salmon mentaiko, beef mentaiko, and mentaiko sushi… It seems like mentaiko dishes have been trending on my social media for the last few weeks.
Mentaiko dishes have been gaining popularity nowadays and as a foodie, I was curious about how they tasted. You could find them in several Japanese restaurants with pretty expensive price tags. However, I just felt like it was wasteful just to spend so much money on tiny bites of food. I found the best way to satisfy my curiosity was by making it myself and I was glad to do so because the recipe was actually so easy.
First of all, what is mentaiko? Mentaiko (明太子) is actually pollock or pollack roe, the roe of Alaska pollack. This fish is one of the many marine fish species of the cod family. Meanwhile, the roe is actually the mass of eggs contained in the ovaries of female fish.
Mentaiko should be salty with the flavors of the sea. It can be enjoyed either raw or cooked. There are a couple of variations of mentaiko you can get, The plain and salted version of mentaiko is called tarako. There is also the spicy one called karashi mentaiko (辛子明太子), which means spicy pollack roe. It is made by salting the ovaries and marinating them in various seasonings and spices. Mentaiko is marinated in different seasonings to create various tastes. This is the reason why you can see mentaiko sold in different colors that range from pink to bright red and the redder it gets, the spicier it is. Nevertheless, spicy mentaiko is commonly referred to as just mentaiko in Japan.
Tips on Making Beef Mentaiko Rice Bowl
1. Use Japanese mayonnaise
Considering the taste of mayo is pretty dominant in this recipe, I recommend to use the mayonnaise brand you love the best. In my case, Kewpie mayonnaise is probably the only commercial mayo I ever buy. You probably have seen it at grocery stores with its signature tube bottle with a red cap and distinctive baby for a logo. It also has been widely used as condiments in restaurants. It tastes more superior than the regular mayo I have ever tasted, in terms of creaminess, sweetness, and tang.
2. Mentaiko substitute
The hardest part of making this recipe should be finding the main ingredient, mentaiko. There are very few Japanese or Korean grocery stores selling mentaiko here. You should find it in the refrigerator or freezer sections. It is also sold at online shops from several e-commerce and shopping websites. I recommend you to buy a little at first because it easily goes bad, especially if not stored in the fridge properly. If you cannot find it anywhere, simply replace it with either tobiko (flying fish roe) or tarako (non-spicy mentaiko version).
3. Just put enough sauce on top
The mayo flavor in the sauce is pretty overwhelming, while the mentaiko makes the mayo tastes saltier. For this reason, putting too much sauce on top is like eating a spoonful of mayo and you will not be able to taste the other components in the rice bowl. Just spread the sauce thinly, just enough to cover the top of your bowl.
4. Blow torch the beef for smoky flavor
The original recipe of Beef Mentaiko Rice Bowl actually does not instruct me to this. However, my friend suggested an idea to char the beef a little to make it tastier. Blow torching the beef really works well and brings out the unique smoky aroma and flavor of the finished product.
5. Blow torch substitute
There is something mesmerizing about watching the mayo bubbling, caramelizing, browning, and charring from a blow torch when you pull it out at a dinner party. However, I know that you might be considering if a blow torch is a necessary gadget to have among your other essential cookware. You can put your rice bowls in your oven on broil mode to achieve the same look, but it will not bring out those unique and desirable smoky flavor achieved by using a blow torch.
5. Cover the rice with toppings
You will not want to end up with burnt rice, will you? This happens when you do not cover the rice with beef and sauce on top.
More Recipes You Would Love
While you are here, check out also these recipes: