Mentaiko (明太子) is the marinated roe of pollock, and is a common ingredient in Japanese cuisine. Mentaiko originated from myeongran jeot (명란젓) of Korean cuisine and was introduced to Japan after the Russo-Japanese War. Toshio Kawahara (川原 俊夫 Kawahara Toshio ), a Busan-born Japanese, adapted Korean mentaiko to Japanese tastes in Fukuoka in the 1950s. The name is derived from the Korean word for Alaska pollock (mentai, 명태 : myeongtae in Korean) and the Japanese word for "child" (子 ko ). The typical seasoning and flavor is slightly different in Japan.
Mentaiko is made in a variety of flavors and colors and is available at airports and main train stations. It is usually eaten with onigiri, but is also enjoyed by itself with sake. A common variety is spicy mentaiko (辛子明太子 karashi mentaiko ). It is a product of the Hakata ward of Fukuoka City.
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