Mentaiko udon is a popular izakaya dish that combines the delicious seafood flavors of Japanese cuisine with the Western influences of creamy pasta. This dish is made with chewy udon noodles mixed with a delicious umami mentaiko cream sauce that is both creamy and briney in taste.
This dish is undeniably delicious, but how healthy can a creamy noodle dish really be? By making it protein style with greek yogurt, you got yourself a delicious low-calorie version the classic creamy udon dish with a skinny mentaiko sauce.
🍎 Calories and Nutrition – Is Mentaiko Udon Healthy?
To understand the calorie and nutrition content of the mentaiko udon, it’s useful to look at the core ingredients that make up mentaiko udon. Mentaiko udon is made of 3 main components: the noodles, the mentako sauce, and the toppings.
- Noodles: The udon noodles are a vital part of this dish and carbs are definitely a necessary part of our diet. However, it's important to portion this mindfully as carbs can easily add up calorie-wise if not portioned correctly, hindering progress towards your fitness goals. You can also opt to use pasta if you don't have udon noodles available
- Mentaiko Sauce: The mentaiko sauce typically consists of Kewpie mayo, cod roe sacs, soy sauce, butter, and heavy cream. While the cod roe and soy sauce do not add much additional calories, Kewpie mayo, butter, and cream can add a significant amount of calories to the dish given their high fat content. For purposes of weight loss, it'd be best to omit or portion these ingredients mindfully.
- Toppings: Bonito flakes, furikake, and/or scallions would make great topping to the dish without adding a significant amount of calories. Togarashi would also be good for an extra kick if you prefer spicy food.
Looking at each component, it’s easy to see that mentaiko udon can easily be made to be a high calorie and high fat dish if the noodles and sauce ingredients are not portioned correctly, making it less than ideal for dieting purposes. However, it’s not hard to make it low calorie and macro conscious — this recipe will show you some tweaks that will make mentaiko udon easy to fit into your everyday diet.
🍏 How to Make It Healthy – The Fitsian Method
In this recipe, I made some key modifications to the sauce to make this a more macro friendly and calorie conscious dish. Here are some key tweaks I made:
- Used ½ pack of udon noodles at only 160 calories
- Portioned high calorie ingredients for the sauce mindfully by using ¼ tablespoon of butter and 1 teaspoon of Kewpie Mayo.
- Substituted heavy cream, which is 50 calories per tablespoon, with greek yogurt which is 100 calories for the entire container! I only used a quarter cup of the yogurt for this recipe, at 25 calories. Using yogurt also adds some additional protein.
For a detailed breakdown of each ingredients, their portioning, and how they make up the nutrition profile of this low calorie mentaiko udon recipe, you may refer to the table below:
💡Tips and Tricks
How do I portion each ingredients accurately?
Here are some key tools I would recommend for portioning ingredients:
- A kitchen scale is an essential tool in meal prepping and portioning each ingredient as accurately as possible. Guesstimating is not recommended, as it more often than not will lead to inaccurate tracking of calories and/or macros. Therefore, you can very easily end up way more calories than you thought you did, or way less protein than you thought you did. Kitchen scales can easily be purchased via Amazon and are very inexpensive so it's definitely worth getting one!
- Measuring spoons and cups are very useful for measuring out liquid ingredients. If you don't have these, you can always measure out the equivalent amount using a bowl on a kitchen scale and pouring the ingredient(s) out until you reach the desired portion.
Does the yogurt sauce taste different?
The yogurt sauce will add a creamy and thick texture to the dish, similar to mentaiko, without the added calories. If you use plain yogurt, you should not notice a huge differential in the taste.
Is Mentaiko healthy?
Yes -- Mentaiko (or cod roe) runs at only about 15 calories per tablespoon and is predominantly made of protein. It's brings a delicious salty, briny flavor that complements the cream in this recipe very well. Great flavor at such low calories -- what more can you ask for?
Is Udon fattening?
I generally don't like to categorize a certain food by healthy or unhealthy as anything can be made healthy with moderation. That said, a typical pack of udon runs at about 300 calories, with carbs as the main macronutrient. Depending on your diet and macro goals, you can either use the whole pack or use half the pack and save the rest for a future recipe, which is a trick I often use to cut calories from a recipe. These noodles freeze well too so can be stored in the fridge for a while!
Can I use other types of noodles?
Yes! Spaghetti and/or bucatini is often used for this recipe as well. Just be sure to portion the noodles mindfully. With spaghetti, it's good to use about 1 serving -- how much to use can be determined by the packaging.
This recipe was inspired by Just One Cookbook's Mentaiko Udon Recipe .
If you liked this recipe, check out the following:
- Uni Carbonara Recipe: For another delicious Japanese fusion pasta recipe
- Healthy Udon Recipes: For more low calorie and protein packed udon recipes
- Creamy Spicy Shrimp Pasta: For a delicious creamy spicy shrimp recipe packed with protein and delicious creamy tomato sauce
- Cheating Cheat Meals Recipe collection: For more of low calorie recipe hacks
- Japanese Izakaya style collection: For more of my favorite Japanese food recipes
- 30 Healthy Japanese Recipes: For more low calorie and high protein Japanese recipe ideas
📋 Ingredient Notes
- 2 sacs cod roe
- ⅓ Small Plain Greek Yogurt
- 1 tablespoon Soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon Kewpie Mayo
Udon & Stir Fry
- 1 pack udon noodles
- 1-2 cloves of Garlic
- ¼ tablespoon of Butter
- 1 tablespoon Onion
- 1 teaspoon Dashi stock powder + ¼ cup water (Use as needed)
- Furikake, bonito flakes, togarashi and green onion (For garnish)
🔪 Step by Step Instructions
- Gather all the sauce ingredients.
- Open the 2 sacs of cod roe with a knife and scoop out thoroughly into a small bowl.
- Add the kewpie mayo into the bowl and mix until the mayo and roe is relatively uniform. Then begin to mix in the soy sauce and greek yogurt until well combined. Set the mentaiko sauce mixture aside.
- In a skillet, melt the butter and add in garlic and onions. Cook until the onions have softened and the garlic is golden, about 2-3 minutes.
- At this point, it's time to put everything together. Ensure that you lower the heat to low, and toss in the cooked udon noodles and mentaiko mixture. This will prevent the sauce from scorching and drying out too quickly. Mix everything thoroughly.
- Add some dashi stock for some additional flavor and to emulsify the sauce and deglaze the pan.
- Remove from heat, garnish with togarashi, furikake, bonito flakes, and green onions and serve!
Creamy Udon with Mentaiko Sauce Protein Style
- 2 sacs Cod Roe
- ⅓ Small Plain Greek Yogurt
- 1 tablespoon Soy Sauce
- Drizzle of Kewpie Mayo
Udon & Stir Fry
- ½ pack Udon
- 1-2 cloves Garlic
- ¼ tablespoon Butter
- 1 tablespoon Onion
- 1 teaspoon Dashi stock powder
- Furikake, bonito flakes, and green onion (For Garnish)
Nutrition & Macros
- 415 Calories
- 17 g Protein
- 21 g Fat
- 40 g Carbs
- Open the 2 sacs of cod roe with a knife and scoop out thoroughly.
- In a small bowl, combine cod roe and kewpie mayo and mix until uniform. Then mix in soy sauce and greek yogurt. Set the mentaiko sauce mixture aside.
- In a skillet, melt the butter and add in garlic and onions. Cook until the onions have softened and the garlic is golden.
- At this point, it's time to put everything together! Ensure that you lower the heat to low, and toss in the cooked udon noodles and mentaiko mixture. Mix thoroughly. I also added some dashi stock for some additional flavor and to emulsify the sauce.
- Garnish with tograshi, furikake, bonito flakes, and green onions and serve!