Translated by Lester Somera
Make Personalized Mentaiko (Fish Roe) At Hakuhaku in Fukuoka!
Experience Hakata's food culture at Hakuhaku. One delicious part of that culture is mentaiko, spicy fish roe. Here, you can make your one-of-a-kind version!
Written by Norihisa Hasegawa
Hakuhaku is a popular museum where visitors can try out the food and culture of Hakata. We would like to introduce you to a special corner at Hakuhaku where you can try to make your very own mentaiko: the MyMentaiko experience.
What Is The MyMentaiko Experience?
Photos provided by: The Hakata Food and Culture Center, Hakuhaku The mentaiko-making experience is particularly popular, even for Hakuhaku. Pay 1500 yen per person to take home three pieces (about 100g) of mentaiko that have been flavored and spiced to your preferences. The process of making your mentaiko takes 30 to 40 minutes. If there are openings on the waiting list, you may be able to apply on the day of your visit, but you can make an reservation on the website so that things will go smoothly. Reservations are accepted until three days before the day of your visit, at 17:00. Hakuhaku can accept group bookings of up to 20 people. If you want to bring a group bigger than 20, then you need to make a special organizational reservation. Having said that, if there is still room available when it’s time for the course to start, Hakuhaku may be able to accept your group, so check with the staff.
Before You Make Your Mentaiko, Explore The Interior
Choose the timeslot for your mentaiko-making course when you make your reservation. While you’re waiting for it to start, look around the museum and factory area. An announcement will be made over the PA right before it’s time for the mentaiko-making to begin, so you don’t have to worry about missing your timeslot while you’re exploring the building.
Let’s Try Making It For Real
If you made a reservation beforehand, the exact number of items necessary for the participants will be laid out on the table. You don’t need to bring anything yourself, so you can easily enjoy the mentaiko-making even if you’re in the middle of your trip.
Picture provided by: The Hakata Food and Culture Center, Hakuhaku Before you start, the staff will give an explanation of mentaiko’s ingredients and how it’s prepared. This lecture about the secrets of mentaiko is intended for people who have never eaten it and those who don’t know much about it, despite having eaten it before. Well, then, let’s make that mentaiko!
1. First, Bag The Tarako
First, it’s vital to wash your hands and take other hygiene measures. Once you’re ready, take the tarako (fish roe) in the palm of your hand and inspect it up close before you bag it. This is important for understanding tarako’s soft texture!
2. Adjust The Spiciness and Seasoning
After you’ve bagged the tarako, create your very own mentaiko; use karashi mustard, sesame, black pepper and other seasonings to adjust it to your taste. You can taste-test the typical level of spice before hand, so use this to guide your alterations. Personalizing your mentaiko is a very important process, so treat the tarako with care!
3. Let’s Soak It In the Liquid Marinade
This liquid isn’t spicy, but adds plenty of umami punch. After removing the mentaiko, you can also use the liquid as a seasoning for other dishes. Try making some mentaiko pasta or mentaiko-flavored fried chicken!
4. Apply The Finishing Touches And Pack It Up
After you’ve marinated the mentaiko in the seasoning liquid, put it in a container, being careful to avoid spillage. Write the date, your name and the added ingredients on the label.
5. Be Patient And Wait For Your Mentaiko To Reach Peak Deliciousness
Since it is your own original mentaiko, it’s natural that you’d want to eat it as quickly as possible. However, you need to be a little patient. Bring it back to your home or hotel room and store it in the fridge for up to two days. The flavors will permeate the mentaiko and make it even more delicious!
In recent years, mentaiko has experienced an uptick in popularity; not just in Japan, but all over the world. In March 2014, the restaurant Tararanya opened in Hong Kong’s Causeway Bay district, and is garnering more and more acclaim. Hakuhaku sells seasonings and other products from Tararanya. When you come to Fukuoka, how about crafting your own mentaiko and picking up some Tararanya products as souvenirs?
The Hakata Food and Culture Center, Hakuhaku
Address: Fukuoka, Fukuoka City, Higashi-ku, Sharyo 2-14-28
Hours: 10:00-17:00 (last entry at 16:30))
Closed: Every Tuesday (if a public holiday falls on a Tuesday, the center will close the following day instead), New Year’s Holiday
Credit cards accepted: Only in the souvenir shop
Foreign language support: English and Korean (not permanent staffers)
Foreign language menus: Yes
Closest station: JR Yoshizuka Station (吉塚駅)
Access: 13 minutes from Yoshizuka Station
Price: 300 yen for entry, 1500 yen to join the mentaiko-making event
Homepage: The Hakata Food and Culture Center, Hakuhaku