Saturday, February 7, 2009

Yan San's Wafuu Pasta

You know that I absolutely love "Italian" pasta that is adapted to the Japanese palate, but I equally love Japanese-style pasta, otherwise known as wafuu pasuta (pasta) - wafuu = 和風 = Japanese style. In fact, it was the first meal I had in the country.

Basically, it's like topping pasta with ingredients and sauces you'd put over rice. I find that the texture of the pasta is of utmost importance - it has to be perfectly al dente, maybe even veering on a little hard - and the kinds I had always seemed to be tossed in a bit of butter before being added to the sauce. Maki from Just Hungry explains the concept well.

I've been scrounging around the net for wafuu pasta recipes in English to switch things up a bit from my diet of fruit and ice cream bars (if there's any good food in Nice, I can't afford it), but there aren't many, and most feature ingredients that I can't get because I live in the middle of nowhere.

So! I took to my culinary laboratory and produced the following, which I'm proud to say turned out quite well and is very tasty. A bunch of the ingredients are optional, in case you are even more unfortunate than I am and are living even more deeply entrenched in Nowhere, in which case you wouldn't even be able to find stuff like mirin. But I know I'm taking a leap of faith in assuming that soy sauce is pretty widely available and universal.

I like my wafuu pasta sauce a little watery because it's more faithful to the samples I tasted in Japan and because they make great dips if you're in the habit of cleaning your plates with bread after consuming the main course. If you prefer thicker sauces, there are instructions in the recipe on how you could achieve that.

Finally, this recipe serves four, but I actually ate about half of the sauce (2 servings, and I made the pasta accordingly) the night I made it and saved the other half to eat with rice. It's super easy, so I hope you give it a try!


Yan San’s Wafuu Pasta

200g ground pork
1 small onion, diced OR half a large onion, diced
1 stalk green onion, finely chopped
1 or 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped OR 2 tsp minced garlic
2 large mushrooms diced OR 4 small mushrooms, diced
4 tbsp soy sauce
¾ cup white wine
dash of garlic powder
dash of dried shallot flakes
dash of ground pepper

dash of fish sauce (optional)
dash of mirin (optional)
1 tsp dashi powder (optional)
1 tsp Japanese garlic paste (optional)

500g spaghetti
1 tbsp butter

1.) Cook spaghetti until perfectly al dente and toss in butter.
2.) Heat some olive oil in a deep skillet and stir-fry the garlic and garlic paste on medium heat until it smells yummy.
3.) Add chopped onions and green onion to the skillet and stir-fry until the onions become translucent.
4.) Add mushrooms and stir around some more, until they become coated with oil.
5.) Add pork, soy sauce, dashi, garlic powder and shallot flakes – try to break up the pork while browning it.
6.) When the pork is just about cooked through, add white wine and mirin. Turn up the heat until it boils to reduce the alcohol.
7.) Do a taste test! I prefer it to be a little bit too salty on its own so that it makes a really flavourful pasta sauce. Add some fish sauce for extra flavour.
8.) I like my sauce watery, but if you prefer a creamier, thicker sauce, add either a touch of cream or corn starch diluted in cold water to the mix.
9.) Spoon over pasta and enjoy!

Serves 4

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