The product certified by Majelis Ulama Indonesia (MUI), the Muslim authority of the country, is now sold in AEON supermarkets in Indonesia. Whole mentaiko, also known as mako, is being sold in packs of about 70g to 100g.
PT Kanemory Food Service, a halal-certified operation, was consigned to produce the halal mentaiko by its group company in Indonesia, PT Kanematsu Trading Indonesia.
Apart from being free of sake, a traditional ingredient, all the ingredients and processes in the production of the halal mentaiko had to adhere to MUI’s guidelines, including being produced in a halal-certified food processing facility.
According to Hideki Kobayashi, director of PT Kanemory Food Service, they were unable to use most of the usual seasonings or ingredients in traditional mentaiko as they are not considered halal.
“It took more than two years of trial and error to match the taste of mentaiko using only ingredients halal certified by MUI, which were mainly obtained in Indonesia,” says Kobayashi.
Yamaya Communication Inc, a major producer of mentaiko in Japan, provided the technical knowledge and supervised the manufacturing process.
Kobayashi says he feels confident about the growing demand for Japanese sauces, spreads and condiments in Indonesia, including for use in local Indonesian dishes. He says the next step is to promote the mentaiko in a spread form to be used in sushi items in the country.
Kanematsu Trading Indonesia is expected to export the halal mentaiko to other Muslim countries or territories within a few months. The current halal certification by MUI is for domestic consumption and sale only. Kobayashi says they have to apply for certification and approval for export in several steps.
The halal mentaiko is also available as a food ingredient for manufacturers.
“We also produce mentaiko spread in 500g bags for restaurants and 2kg bags factory use, such as to produce mentai mayonnaise. They will be provided frozen,” he says.
How halal mentaiko was conceived
Kobayashi says it all began when a popular Japanese restaurant chain in Indonesia acquired halal certification by MUI. The restaurant had a menu range that sold well but was forced to stop as it was using mentaiko sauce that was not halal or MUIS approved. It was imported from Japan.
As the restaurant was unable to find halal mentaiko, it was then that the idea of producing it for the Indonesian market arose.
At that time, the director of Yamaya, a former colleague of Kobayashi, visited Jakarta.
“Yamaya had provided mentaiko to the same restaurant chain in a different country, and had received similar requests from customers for halal mentaiko. After discussion, we agreed for Yamaya and the Kanematsu group to collaborate and start making halal mentaiko,” says Kobayashi.
He added, laughing, that this new venture started from a pub conversation in Jakarta.