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!