Tarako – Spicy Cod Roe Spaghetti

Tarako – also known as salted cod roe – spaghetti is a super easy, super fast Japanese recipe that you can use to get lunch or dinner on the table quickly.

tarako spicy cod roe spaghetti

Updated 19 Sept 2010
Originally posted 14 Dec 2006

Sometimes in our busy lives, there isn’t much time between getting home from work and then heading back out to an evening activity. We hate to eat on the run, or even worse stop in at some fast food joint to pick up something we’re going to regret later. Tarako spaghetti is a dish that is so quick to prepare, and is so tasty that it’s consumed in even less time than it took to make it!

Something Smells Fishy

Okay, so I know a lot of you must be thinking, “COD ROE?! You’re talking about putting FISH EGGS on top of pasta?! You’ve got to be kidding me! How can that be tasty?”

Trust me, I’ve been there. I said the exact same thing when Annie first made a plate of tarako spaghetti for herself one night. And then I took a bite of her dish. And then another. And then I wanted to eat the rest of her pasta. It was good! I was hooked.

I’ve enjoyed this dish many a time since then. Last night was one of those times.

Hurry Hurry

Annie picked me up late from work, and we had less than an hour to get home, fix dinner and eat it before we had to go back out to our small group. As soon as we got home, I put a big pot of salted water to boil.

We had two different brands of tarako packages in our cupboard – the S&B brand (on the left) we bought during our recent trip to Singapore, while the Kewpie brand was purchased during our recent trip to Japan. Both packages contain two packets each of tarako sauce and shredded nori (seaweed).

Tarako Packages and Contents

Tarako Cod Roe Spaghetti sauce

Once the pasta noodles had been boiled and drained, I put four helpings into a large bowl and added a couple pats of butter. (Now, you really don’t need to add butter, but I like butter so I put it in.) Toss the noodles to melt the butter and evenly distribute it over all the noodles. Then I portioned the noodles out onto plates and drizzled the tarako sauce over the noodles.

Making Tarako Cod Roe Spaghetti

I tossed the noodles to make sure all the pasta was coated with the sauce. The final step is to sprinkle the shredded seaweed on top of the plate. Then serve, and stand back as the noodles are quickly inhaled with a giant slurping sound!

Tossing Tarako Cod Roe Spaghetti

To me, the flavor is almost like eating crab – salty like the sea, and buttery like, well, butter! I can’t get enough – it’s so delicious, I devour the whole plate in no time at all. And I’m left wanting more, eying the kids’ bowls to see if they’re going to finish their share (they inevitably will).

tarako spicy cod roe spaghetti

What do you think, would you eat salted, spicy fish eggs on pasta? Leave us a comment!

FoodBuzz Project Food Blog Challenge #1:

Ready, Set, Blog!

FoodBuzz is holding a food blogger competition called “Project Food Blog” which pits FoodBuzz Featured Publishers against each other in a series of challenges, culminating in one lucky blogger winning $10,000. We’ve looked over the challenges, and we think we have what it takes to win. Even if we don’t win, though, we think these challenges will stretch us and make our blog even better than it is now.

The first challenge is to talk about ourselves. Which isn’t as easy as it sounds, because I don’t like to talk about myself on this blog a whole lot, usually preferring to let the pictures and recipes do the talking.

Who Are House of Annie?

Our About page tells you that the House of Annie blog started in October of 2006. However, our desire to share our food passions with others goes much farther back than 2006.  Actually, Annie and I have been interested in food and cooking since we started dating back in 1997, when we used to cook together at her dorm. Old friends like Fosco, Koko, and Serene may know that I’ve been posting pictures of the foods we were eating since as early as 2003, on the alt.binaries.food Usenet newsgroup.  Annie herself was participating in a few online cooking bulletin boards back then as well.

We started the blog to chronicle the dishes Annie was cooking, as well as the places we were eating out at.  Originally, we hardly put up any recipes at all – just general descriptions of how a dish came together. Along the way, we started to put up actual recipes, so that we had something online to refer back to in case we misplaced the original recipe.

As the quality and quantity of other food blogs grew, we got inspired – to write better, to take better pictures, and to grow our audience. To work harder and to take the blog to the next level. The House of Annie was no longer just for us.

The House of Annie is for YOU our dear readers.

The House of Annie is also 4 U: four “U” words which describe who we are:

  • Unique – our background as Asian (Annie) and Hawaiian (Nate) gives us an intimate familiarity with all the ingredients and dishes of the East and the Pacific Islands, while our time in California gave us access to the best of the West. (Today’s tarako spaghetti recipe is an example of the kind of East-West dishes we enjoy eating)
  • Useful – we want to help our readers to cook our recipes and experience the same joy that we have when making and eating our dishes. To that end, we give detailed instructions and cooking tips, along with step-by-step pictures and even video showing how it was done. (Example: today’s tarako spaghetti recipe shows you what the packaging looks like, and how to build the dish.)
  • Unpretentious – We’ll tell you when something didn’t come out quite right, or when some restaurant had a disappointing dish. We’ll talk about our shortcomings and mistakes, so we can all learn to do better.
  • Uplifting – . We try to remain positive in our posts, which is why we always sign off with

Cheers and Aloha, Annie and Nate

Edit: voting ends September 23. Please go now to http://www.foodbuzz.com/project_food_blog/challenges/1/view/391 and vote for us!

73 thoughts on “Tarako – Spicy Cod Roe Spaghetti”

  1. Aloha Annie and Nate,
    Thank you for writing this wonderful blog to share your recipes, adventures and Joie de vivre. Definitely a blog written from the heart.. Thank you.
    Will I eat tarako/mentaiko !!.. I try to keep stock of mentaiko in my freezer. I was hooked on Japanese style pasta during my trips to Japan ( sorry, diehard Italian pasta lovers– I like the Japanese versions more LOL) Until your post I never knew they had it in packages — guess what’s next on my shopping list to J-town 🙂
    Do you guys have the recipe to make those poached eggs where its firm outside and just runny on the inside???
    Thanks again and keep up the great work.

    1. PutuPiring –

      thanks for the lovely comment!

      I wish we could find the mentaiko (cod roe sacs) here in Kuching, but so far I haven’t. I wonder if the local Korean supply store has them.

      As for the packaged tarako sauce, we’ve seen the S&B brand on sale in the Japanese markets. Just print out the pic of the packages and show them to the store clerks.

  2. I would absolutely eat cod roe on top of pasta! It sounds delicious and now I’m going to have to check my local Asian supermarkets to see if I can find these types of noodle packets. I haven’t seen it but you never know until you look.

    1. Jenny –

      print out the pic of the packages and show it to the store clerks – they’ll be able to lead you to the right aisle.

  3. OKay, I found you through PFB. Thank god for PFB. I probably won’t even go far, but I’m thankful to it because I discovered your blog, and now I LOVE it. Why?

    1) I lived in Singapore for 10 years, and actually just came back from a trip back to Singapore and MAlaysia this summer. So anyone from that region takes a special place in my heart.

    2) When you posted this tarako spaghetti recipe, I almost flipped out because I LOVE this dish. So freaking much. I wonder if you ever heard of Waraku Pasta? It’s a Jap-fusion chain…but it reminded me of that place. Oh, fond memories.

    Actually, I made a recipe one time kinda like that: http://www.burpandslurp.com/2009/06/27/no-longer-my-myself-and-i/

    3) You love butter. Enough said.

    4) I loved the 4 U’s you described. You say 4U, I say THANK U.

    Okay, that was corny. But seriously, pleased to “meet” you.

    1. Sophia,

      Anyong! Pleased to meet you, and thanks for coming and commenting on our blog.

      May I say, you have a delicious blog as well, and I’m glad to meet you. I am now a subscriber 🙂

  4. The spaghetti looks interesting and yummy, I have always wanted to try Japanese style pasta – I think I should really give it a try soon – btw, good luck and all the best in the competition!

  5. I was introduced to this while I was in Japan and had it with sizable chunks of the roe. I think the kids will love it! Any idea whether these packs of roe contain MSG? I’ll look for it next time I go to Mitsuwa or back to Hawaii.

    1. Kristina –

      Sorry, the ingredients list is all in Japanese.

      You should be able to find them at the Japanese grocery in Japantown or Mitsuwa in San Jose. Also Marukai in Cupertino and Honolulu. Probably the ones sold in the US will have an ingredients label in English.

  6. Annie and Nate,
    Good Luck with the Food Blog Competition!

    Mentaiko(spicy) and Tarako(plain) can sometime be found in the freezer section in Japanese or Korean market.
    Another delicious Japanese ready made sauce for pasta is the Ume/Shiso (sour plum and beefsteaf or perilla leaf, very nice fagrant). Great with additional seafood toppings!

    1. Susan,

      thanks for the clarification between mentaiko and tarako! Really appreciate it.

      That night that Annie prepared the tarako for herself, she also made the ume version for me. Also good, but not as good as tarako!

  7. I was in the Asian store yesterday trying to look for this yummilicious looking tarako, but all I found were Kimchi Ramen(Ramyun).. Is it the same? I love the simplicity of this dish. BTW, less is MORE, right?

    And here are 2 more U’s for you: “UNBELIEVABLY UTILE”


    1. IH –

      no, kimchi ramyun is just Korean instant noodles with a spicy seasoning packet. Also good eats, but not the same as tarako spaghetti.


  8. I ADORE quick and simple, bang-out fabulous meals. I am always searching for and posting recipes that consider that ‘end of the day I am tired, hungry but still want each bite to count’ mentality. Bravo—this sound DELISH!

  9. Hi Annie and Nate…believe it or not, i love this kind of pasta…unfortunately my husband is not into this 🙁 Near us even has a restaurant that serve this kind of pasta…SO SO yummie!

    1. Juliana

      I think you should do what Annie did – make some ume/shiso pasta for hubby and tarako for yourself. Then have him try a bite. It might work! 🙂

  10. Hi Annie and Nate!

    Thank you for the comment! You got my vote as well! The post is making me want to leave work early and go to Japantown, which is just 3 blocks away. Sometimes I take JTown for granted because it’s so close, but reading your blog made me want to visit again.


    1. Jo –

      So nice to be so near to a Japantown! I just love wandering the markets there. What’s your favorite Japantown find?

  11. Lovely recipe, It’s always better to wip up something like that then those nasties fast food offenders. It looks delicious. Good luck with the challenges. Have a great week.

  12. I know that this is a terrific combination with pasta as I’ve paired salmon roe with pasta and also recently nori. Super delicious! A great write up for the Project food blog – you guys definitely have my vote!

  13. yum, i love noodle dishes – looks delicious! and i agree roe is good on many items! thanks for your vote – you have mine as well. good luck in the competition! 🙂

  14. mentaiko pasta is my fave Japanese pasta! It was really weird, but this was one of the first thing I ordered (not dim sum or dumplings noodles) when I was in Hong Kong holidaying because I had such a sudden craving for it :)~

    1. Wiffy –

      how funny! Tarako spaghetti was the first thing Annie ate when we got to Japan. The sushi bars weren’t open for lunch yet.

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