Mentaiko France is a Japanese fusion baked good of French bread, or a baguette, garnished with a mixture of cream cheese and mentaiko cod roe, or caviar.
There are two types of mentaiko that you can choose from for this recipe, either a plain salted version, which is known as tarako and a spicy version known as karashi mentaiko. For this recipe, I've used karashi mentaiko or the spicier cod roe which I prefer. More information on mentaiko and tarako are available in this Japanese Ingredient Spotlight: Mentaiko.
For this recipe, because the karashi mentaiko is mixed with cream cheese, the spice is mellowed quite a bit, which is why I recommend garnishing each mentaiko France crostini with a tiny dollop of fresh karashi mentaiko, and dusted with shichimi togarashi, which is a Japanese 7 - spice chili pepper. It adds just a hint more of heat that goes quite well with the creamy mentaiko spread.
- 10 to 12 slices of french bread or little crostini (baguette slices)
- 3 tablespoons light cream cheese
- 1 piece of karashi mentaiko (spicy cod roe)
- Shichimi Togarashi (Japanese 7-spice chili pepper flakes) to taste
- Pre-heat oven to low broil. Alternatively, use a toaster oven when you're ready to toast the mentaiko France.
- Slice a baguette into thin 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch pieces. As a shortcut, buy crostini, which are essentially pre-sliced baguette bread pieces.
- In a small bowl, add light cream cheese.
- Using a very sharp knife, slice one piece of the karashi mentaiko sac vertically down the center, splitting the skin open.
- Remove the tiny caviar from the mentaiko sac with the back of a knife or spoon. Add about 3/4 of the caviar into the bowl with the cream cheese, and reserve a small amount of the caviar to use as a garnish for later. Store the reserved amount in the refrigerator.
- Mix the cream cheese and karashi mentaiko caviar until well incorporated to create a creamy spread.
- Spread a generous amount of the cream cheese and karashi mentaiko spicy caviar mixture over the top of each crostini slice.
- Line a baking sheet with foil (optional), then line the sheet with crostini and broil for about 4 to 5 minutes until the tops of the creamy spread brown. I recommend watching the crostini in the oven as broiling can quickly burn the bread.
- Plate the mentaiko France, then garnish each piece with a small bit of the reserved karashi mentaiko caviar, and then dust with a sprinkle of the shichimi togarashi (Japanese 7-spice chili pepper flakes). Serve immediately. Best if eaten on the same day, but leftovers may be stored in the refrigerator and reheated, although this isn't recommended.
- Substitute cream cheese with mayonnaise or even butter.
- Instead of individual bite-sized crostini, try slicing an entire of French baguette from top to bottom, right down the center of the bread, and then fill the slice with the cream cheese mentaiko spread, and bake for a few minutes.