Wafu pasta or wafuu pasuta is the slightly bonkers, Japanese interpretation of Italian pasta dishes (wafu meaning Japanese style).
The first time we went to Harajuku, Japan (spiritual home of Gwen Stefani), hubby and I stumbled across a restaurant called Yomenya Goemon specialising in the stuff.
The spaghetti toppings would be familiar to those who love Japanese food, but might alarm those expecting tomatoes and basil, or pancetta and parmesan, eg there's a lot of uni aka sea urchin and tarako aka cod roe (though we never came across "cram").
The staff had so many orders on the go at once that they had little magnetic timers going off to let them know when the pasta was done (though apparently Japanese people don't like al dente).
Hubby plumped for pork, sesame and mizuna (see below), and I went for tarako and shimeji mushrooms (see pic at the top).
It was really, really good, and we rather enjoyed using chopsticks instead of a fork to twirl the pasta strands around.
Back home, I tried to recreate the dish I had (with added chilli!) and I loved it so much, and it's so quick, that now I'll eat it whenever I can.
All the ingredients can be found at the Japan Centre, some Chinese supermarkets and even some bigger Western places like Waitrose.
The best thing about Japanese spaghetti is that almost all the ingredients can be swapped for one equally delicious - I've listed a few alternatives below.
As for the mushrooms, there are lots of different types of shimeji, but I prefer to use buna-shimeji (beech mushrooms) - the chestnut brown ones below.
Wafu Spaghetti with Shimeji Mushrooms
- 300g spaghetti (dried is fine)
- 1 clump of shimeji mushrooms or 1/2 jar mixed antipasti mushrooms (Lidl's are amazing and Jay Rayner agrees)
- 1 tbsp hon-tsuyu sauce or mix of tsp mirin, tsp Japanese soy, tsp dashi, tsp water
- 1 tarako (cod roe) sauce packet or small pot of red lumpfish roe or pancetta bits
- 2 negi (scallions/spring onions), chopped finely
- 4 red chillis, chopped finely (optional)
- Handful of katsuoboshi (bonito) flakes
- Handful of nori (seaweed) strips
- Drizzle of olive oil
- Shichimi pepper
Cook the spaghetti, then drain and divide into two plates. Top with the mushrooms, the tarako/lumpfish roe/pancetta, the spring onions (and chillis if using) and lastly the nori strips and the katsuoboshi flakes.
Drizzle olive oil all over, sprinkle shichimi pepper to taste and serve.
Easy as pie and one of the tastiest things ever, as I said earlier wafu pasta can be adapted however you wish with any toppings you like, so long as it retains some Japanese flavour/spirit.
Maybe you'll become as addicted to wafu pasta as me!
Branches all over Tokyo