You may think pasta is a strictly Italian dish, but many Japanese recipes calls for pasta as well. The trend dates back to the Meiji period, which took place from the late 1800s to early 1900s. This is when Italian cuisine was introduced to the country. From tasty wafu pasta (wafu meaning westernized Japanese style) with garnishes of mushrooms and nori to buttery noodles topped with roe, each of the following Japanese pasta dishes takes on a uniquely eastern flair.
One popular style of Japanese pasta is mentaiko. This dish is created by mixing spaghetti noodles with oceanic ingredients like spicy cured pollack roe (mentaiko) and strips of nori seaweed. A dressing made of butter and a splash of soy sauce rounds out the dish and serves as a delicious reminder of traditional Japanese cuisine. Of course, you want to be sure to get spicy mentaiko roe and not its counterpart, mild tarako.
By combining the flavors of Japanese herb shiso with ume (salted or pickled Japanese plums, also known as umeboshi), you can create ume shiso pasta. A resurgence in the popularity of shiso has caused this versatile herb to be used in more Japanese recipes, lending an appealing green color to dishes. This Japanese pasta recipe combines unique ingredients with mushrooms, chicken and spaghetti for a refreshing yet filling meal.
A unique take on Italian spaghetti is Japanese Napolitan. While this recipe may not have the familiar tastes of eastern cooking, it’s definitely a popular in many Japanese homes. Created in the 1940s by a hotel manager, it combines noodles with ketchup, bacon, sausages, onion, garlic and fresh herbs. It’s a truly original meal with hints of Italian flavors.
A quick, easy way to create wafu (westernized) pasta is to top noodles with katsuoboshi, or dried bonito flakes. Take thick udon noodles and garnish them with katsuoboshi. Then, add spring onions and a gently poached egg for a Japanese pasta with a variety of textures and flavors.
Burdock and Miso Spaghetti
Another take on wafu pasta is burdock and miso spaghetti. Miso, or fermented soybean paste, is one of the most popular condiments in Japan. By adding this umami flavor to your noodles along with the root of the burdock plant, you can create a great Japanese pasta dish. Bacon and broccoli round out the meal, making it an original fusion dinner.
Of course, Japanese pasta is quite versatile and there are much more to it. Shio-koji salmon and mushroom pasta is a hearty dish with a hint of soy sauce for an earthy, delicious treat. If you don’t know what to cook, just mix bacon and spinach with soy sauce and butter. This recipe is definitely a quick go-to for weekday dinners.
With so many delicious ingredients to choose from, it’s easy to play around with Japanese pasta. Unleash your creativity and make the perfect dinner for any occasion!