I began to wonder if people in Japan like spaghetti. From the number and variety of noodle recipes on my blog, it should be obvious how much I love pasta, noodles, dumplings of all kinds.
The other evening I was on my own for dinner, and after work, I needed something quick and delicious: pasta puttanesca. It’s a favorite with tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, anchovies, black olives, capers, and chili. The story is that “puttanesca” means “whore’s”, named in honor of prostitutes who’d make this pasta, the aroma of which would draw more gentlemen visitors to their bordello. Note: I ate alone.
After the war, spaghetti became popular in Japan: spaghetti Naporitan (Napolitan) was an exotic Western-style (wafuu or yoshoku) meal intended to be like the spaghetti and tomato sauce eaten by the American troops. Tomato pureé was not easy to find in post war Japan, so ketchup was used in the “authentic” sauce. The recipes I’ve seen usually include mushrooms, peppers, onions, hot dogs, tonkatsu sauce, and ketchup. One of these days, I’ll give it a try. next time when I’m on my own…
Some time in the ’70s people began to experiment with Japanese flavors. Essentially, things that are usually eaten with white rice were mixed into or put on top of spaghetti. Until recently, wafuu pasuta or wafuu supagetti was unknown in the West, and not seen on menus of Japanese restaurants frequented by tourists. I read in many blogs that it’s popular in homes and small cafés (kissaten) and as Japanese food has become popular in the U.S. we can now enjoy some very interesting flavor combinations.
One of the most delicious recipes I have seen is made with tarako (salted pollock roe), or mentaiko (spicy pollock roe). I am a long-time reader of Blue Lotus’s blog, and her descriptions of this spaghetti have intrigued me. She also had a post about preparing salmon roe preserved in soy sauce. The most difficult part of this recipe is finding the mentaiko! It’s not inexpensive, and perhaps I should have bought a different sort: the label said the mentaiko was “mashed.” It tasted good, though.
wafuu mentaiko supagetti
- ½ cup mashed spicy pollack roe (mentaiko) (or use 6 to 9 egg sacks)
- 1 ½ Tablespoons softened butter
- 1 ½ Tablespoons soy sauce
- ½ sheet of nori
- 4 green onions, thinly sliced into rings
- 3 shiso leaves (a nice touch, but optional)
- 12 oz thin spaghetti (capellini)
|If you purchased the egg sacks, use a spoon to push the roe out of the sacks.
Cook the pasta in plenty of salted boiling water. Japanese-style would be to cook it a little softer than al denté, but I just couldn’t. Drain. Don’t rinse in cold water as you would with Japanese noodles.
Toss the butter, soy sauce, and mentaiko with the hot pasta.
Serve pasta in bowl garnished with green onions and nori (and shiso leaves).