Mentaiko Tofu Gratin

What do you do when your teenager has just had her braces tightened and chewing is a pain? Once a month I have to deal with this issue and it doesn’t help that kid #2 is not fond of rice porridge (which was how I survived as a metal-mouthed teenager). Most people from the West find tofu bland and mushy, but it is an excellent high protein and low carbohydrate food item. The challenge is to up the ante on flavour and this is where mentaiko, the spicy-salty Japanese cod roe fits the bill perfectly.

This recipe makes a simple appetizer or side; for kid #2 it was a good main dish since she was sick of soup and porridge. If you have the workings of this dish it would take you no more than 15 – 20 minutes to get this dish ready.


  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 1 block of silken tofu, sliced in half lengthwise to have 2 flat blocks
  • 2 pieces of mentaiko, with the roe removed from the skin
  • 1/4 onion, finely minced
  • 1 tbsp arrowroot flour
  • 1/4 cup cream
  • 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 tbsp Japanese mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp butter


    1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
    2. Place the 2 pieces of soft tofu into a casserole dish. Coat the top of the tofu with mentaiko, but reserve 1 tbsp of mentaiko for the final topping later.
    3. In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the chopped onion to the pan and gently sauté till fragrant and translucent for about 2-3 minutes
    4. Add the arrowroot flour and fry further for 1 minute. Add the cream and continue stirring for another minute. Take off the heat and pour on top of the tofu
    5. Sprinkle the cheddar cheese on top of the white sauce. Put in oven and bake for about 8 – 10 minutes.
    6. Remove from oven. Mix the remaining mentaiko with the Japanese mayonnaise and top each piece of cheesy tofu gratin with a dollop of mentaiko mayonnaise.


Step 2: Mentaiko topping on tofu


Step 4: Pour white sauce over mentaiko and tofu


Step 5: Shredded cheese topping over sauce

As this dish is actually meant to be slurped down and there is no contrast in textures (it’s all soft!), the mentaiko mayonnaise gives a temperature contrast to this dish instead.


Step 6 Mentaiko mayonnaise dressing


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