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Tarako Spaghetti Recipe

Tarako Spaghetti is one of the most popular Japanese flavored pasta.  Tarako is salted cod roe and eaten both as is or cooked.  In this dish, the saltiness from Tarako and fresh taste of Shiso leaves match with spaghetti so well that you want to go back to make it again and again.

There are a lot of Italian restaurants in Japan, and you can find any kind of Italian pasta dish.  You can also find many “pasta restaurants” that are different from Italian restaurants.  They serve some typical Italian pasta dishes such as tomato sauce and cream sauce pasta, but also more Japanese flavored sauces and their own kinds of pasta.  Japanese pasta is as popular as its authentic Italian counterpart, and Tarako Spaghetti is good example. It starts with a common Italian pasta, spaghetti, and uses common Japanese ingredients, Tarako and Shiso, to make a delicious combination that  reflects both cooking traditions.

Tarako cod roe is in a small pouch like a thin skin.  It’s ok to eat the skin, but it may be a little chewy.  When you grill Tarako for a topping of Ochazuke or a filling for Onigiri, you just cook it with the skin on; otherwise it will fall apart.  Here we cut a small opening and squeeze out the roe inside.  Well, that description may not be too appetizing if you’ve never had Tarako before, however, it’s the best way to get the roe. Tarako is roe so does have a particular taste, but he flavor of Tarako is mild enough to be unobjectionable for a lot of people, we believe.  If you eat caviar or salmon roe, you are good to go for this dish.

Shiso leaves are often called Japanese basil, but that’s more because Shiso is a commonly used seasoning. Both the shape and the flavor are pretty different from basil.  Shiso has a distinctive herby aroma and a very refreshing aftertaste. Here, the Shiso flavor can neutralize some of the fishy taste of roe.

Tarako Spaghetti is very quick and easy.   If you know how to cook spaghetti, you can make this.  And that’s how long it takes too.  The hardest thing may be finding a Japanese supermarket to buy Tarako. Once that’s done, you’re all set. Enjoy!

Tarako Spaghetti Recipe

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 4 servings


  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • 12 oz (350g) spaghetti
  • 10 Shiso leaves
  • 1/4 cup Tarako (cod roe)
  • 1 Tbsp Soy Sauce
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 Tbsp melted butter
  • 1-2 tsp lemon juice


  1. Cook spaghetti in a large pot of boiling water with 1Tbsp salt. Time according to the pasta package.
  2. Cut Shiso leaves into thin strips.
  3. Remove the thin skin of Tarako by making a small cut and pressing or squeezing roe out with a knife or hand.
  4. In a bowl, add loose Tarako, soy sauce, milk, melted butter, and lemon juice, and mix well.
  5. Add strained hot spaghetti to the sauce and mix.
  6. Place spaghetti on a plate and put cut Shiso on top.

Tarako Spaghetti

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