Sasami mentaiyaki (Broiled chicken with mentaiko)

Yakitori is a cooking style where chicken skewers are grilled over an open flame.  This dish was inspired by a creation from my favorite yakitori shop.  Although it’s broiled and not grilled, the taste of chicken and spicy roe make an amazing combination.

Sasami is the Japanese word for chicken breast tenders.  Many yakitori restaurants grill sasami with a variety of creative “toppings” – mayonnaise, miso paste, pickled plum paste, and my personal favorite, mentaiko (fish roe).  It’s a popular dish served at izakayas (Japanese “tapa” bars), often with a cold beer on the side.

This version of mentaiko topped sasami does not require an open flame.  The chicken is baked to perfection and then put under a broiler where the mentaiko cooks to a crispy and crunchy texture while also preventing the chicken from drying out.

This dish is great topped with fresh shiso leaves and served with mayonnaise and a little shichimi on the side.

There are two main types of mentaiko – spicy red mentaiko and more mild brown colored mentaiko – I definitely recommend going with the spicy type if you like your food with a bit of a kick- as the mentaiko cooks the juices flow over the chicken and give it a great taste.

Mentaiko can be found fresh in any food market in Japan and in other countries can be purchased in the frozen section of asian markets.  Sometimes you can find it fresh in Korean or Japanese markets but you might need to look around a bit.

Give this exotic dish a try and let us know what you think!

Sasami mentaiyaki (Broiled chicken with mentaiko)

Chicken breast tenders topped with spicy cod roe is baked and then broiled so the chicken is light and tender with a crispy topping.  As an alternative, the chicken can be grilled on a skewer over an open flame and then topped with mentaiko and finished in a toaster oven.  Either method produces a tempting and tasty dish that can be served as an appetizer or a main.

20 minutes 12 minutes Serves 2
PREP 20 minutes
COOKING 12 minutes
YIELD Serves 2


  • 2/3 lb chicken breast tenders (raw and unbreaded)
  • 2 pieces of spicy mentaiko (about 80g)
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup cooking sake
  • 6-8 shiso leaves


  • Mix salt and sake in a bowl.  Marinate the chicken in the sake for 15 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 480 degs F/250 degs C
  • Squeeze the roe out of the mentaiko casings and discard the casings.
  • Chop up the shiso leaves.
  • Line up the chicken in a shallow greased oven pan
  • Spread a think layer of mentaiko over the chicken.
  • Sprinkle shiso over the mentaiko.
  • Bake in the oven for 10 minutes.
  • Put under a hot broiler for 2 more minutes.
  • Serve with Japanese Mayonnaise and shichimi.


  • Mentaiko, or cod roe, is actually made by soaking the roe sacs in spices.  While very similar to Bottarga or caviar, the taste is quite different and unique. Although the outside of the roe sac is edible, I recommend squeezing the roe out and spreading it evenly over the chicken.
  • This dish is best when served piping hot.  2/3 lb of chicken yields about six tenders, enough for three per person for 2.


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