Wafū Mushroom Pasta is not made with a cream or a tomato sauce. Its flavour comes from plenty of Asian mushrooms with a bit of bacon, soy sauce and mirin. Chopped green onions and thin strips of nori (roasted seaweed) scattered on the pasta make this pasta even more authentic.
This is a mouth-watering Japanese-style (wafū) pasta dish. Like me when I first made it, you may not be able to stop eating it. I cooked for two servings as per the recipe card and I was meant to have only a small amount of Wafū Mushroom Pasta to taste it. But I couldn’t stop eating it.
Wafū Pasta Flavouring
Since Italian pasta was introduced to Japan during the Edo period, numerous pasta dishes were introduced. At the time, most pasta dishes were Western-style pasta dishes. The only pasta dish invented by Japanese people when the pasta became one of the mainstream Western-style dishes post WWII, was Spaghetti Napolitan (Japanese Ketchup Pasta) like this.
In the early 1960s, a pasta restaurant in Tokyo introduced various pasta dishes with Japanese flavouring using soy sauce, mirin and other typical Japanese seasonings. Some of them also had traditional or unique Japanese food items such as tarako (たらこ, salt cod/pollock roe) and natto (納豆, fermented soybeans) with takuan (沢庵, pickled daikon).
To call pasta ‘wafū’, the flavouring has to be made of Japanese seasonings. Many of them do use soy sauce and today’s recipe, Wafū Mushroom Pasta, is no exception. In addition to the soy sauce and mirin that I used today, dashi stock powder, cooking sake and sesame oil are the ingredients often used to make a wafū flavour.
It is quite surprising that soy sauce goes so well with pasta.
What’s in my Wafū Mushroom Pasta
The ingredients list consists of pasta ingredients, wafū flavouring, and topping.
- Dried spaghetti
- Mixed fresh Asian mushrooms
- Bacon strips
- Smashed garlic
- Finely chopped dried chilli
- Olive oil
- Soy sauce
- Butter (optional)
- Finely chopped green onion
- Thin strips of yaki nori (roasted seaweed sheet)
I used spaghetti but you can use other kinds of pasta such as linguine. I think that long pasta suits this dish better than short pasta such as macaroni and penne.
I bought a pack of mixed mushrooms that contained shiitake, king oyster (also called king trumpet), oyster, and enoki mushrooms. I also added shimeji mushrooms to have 5 kinds of mushrooms. You don’t have to have many kinds of mushrooms. But if you are using just one kind, I would suggest that you use either shiitake, shimeji, or king oyster.
Bacon adds a rich flavour to the dish but if you want to make it vegan pasta, you can omit it.
Dried chilli adds a hint of spiciness to the pasta, which I think is great, but you can omit it if you prefer not to use it.
I strongly recommend using yaki nori as a topping, in addition to chopped green onion. Yaki nori strips are perfect for soy-flavoured pasta. If you can’t get yaki nori, it will be OK without it. The main purpose of yaki nori strips is for visual effect to make it look authentic.
How to Make Wafū Mushroom Pasta
Wafū Mushroom Pasta is quicker to make than most Western-style pasta. This is because you hardly spend time on the pasta sauce.
- Slice/cut/de-cluster the mushrooms depending on the type of mushrooms you are using.
- Cook dried pasta for the duration suggested on the packet, less 1 minute. Reserve some pasta water before draining the pasta.
- Infuse garlic aroma into the oil by heating oil with garlic in a frying pan. Discard the garlic.
- Sauté bacon strips, mushrooms, then chilli in the frying pan.
- Add soy sauce, mirin, cooked pasta, butter (if using), and the pasta water to the pan and mix.
- Serve with toppings scattered on the pasta.
Wafū Mushroom Pasta is quick and easy to make. The flavoured sautéed mushrooms and bacon can be pre-made and stored in the fridge for a day or two. Simply heat up the mushrooms in a frying pan and mix in the cooked pasta.
Wafū Mushroom Pasta is not made with a cream or a tomato sauce. Its flavour comes from plenty of Asian mushrooms, soy sauce and mirin. Thin strips of nori (roasted seaweed) scattered on the pasta make this pasta even more authentic.
If you omit bacon and butter, you can make it vegan pasta.
Cook time is the time to cook the pasta. Whilst it is cooking, you can prepare and sauté mushrooms. Depending on the pasta you use cook time can be longer than 10 minutes.
Don't forget to see the section 'MEAL IDEAS' below the recipe card! It gives you a list of dishes that I have already posted and this recipe that can make up a complete meal. I hope it is of help to you.
- 200g / 0.4lb dried spaghetti
- 250g / 1.1lb mixed fresh mushrooms (note 1)
- 50g / 1.8oz bacon cut into thin strips (note 2)
- 2 cloves garlic smashed (note 3)
- ¼ tsp dried chilli finely chopped
- 1½ tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp mirin
- 1 tbsp butter (optional, note 4)
- 1 stem green onion finely chopped
- 6cm / 2⅜” x 12cm / 4¾" yaki nori (roasted seaweed sheet) cut into 3cm / 1⅛" long, 2mm / 3⁄32" wide strips
Cook pasta as per the instruction on the package. Cooking time should be 1 minute less than the instructed time. Reserve a couple of tablespoons of pasta water before draining.
Shiitake: Remove the stem and slice thinly into 3mm / ⅛" thick pieces.
Enoki: Cut the woody stem at the bottom so that you can separate stems easily. Most enoki mushrooms come with quite long stems. Cut them in half to make them 4-5cm / 2" long.
King oyster/King trumpet: The size of king oyster mushrooms can vary greatly. If they are large like mine, halve them lengthways, then have them vertically before slicing each piece into 3mm / ⅛" thick pieces.
Shimeji: Cut the bottom of the clustering stems so that each stem can be separated easily. Small and short mushrooms can be grouped together to make them similar size to the large shimeji mushrooms.
Oyster: Starting from the cap, tear the flesh vertically with fingers into strips.
Heat olive oil in a frying pan over low heat and add the garlic. Cook the garlic to infuse garlic flavour until brown patches start appearing around the garlic pieces (note 6). Remove the garlic pieces and discard.
Bring the heat up to medium. Add bacon to the pan and sauté until the fat becomes transparent.
Add mushrooms and chilli to the pan and reduce the heat to low. Sauté until the mushrooms are wilted and cooked through.
Add the pasta, all the flavouring ingredients and 1-2 tablespoons of reserved pasta water to the pan. Mix well quickly.
Transfer the pasta to serving plates, scatter green onion pieces over the pasta, then scatter nori strips on top. Serve while hot.
1. I used shiitake, enoki, shimeji, king oyster, and oyster mushrooms. You don’t have to have many kinds of mushrooms. But if you are using just one kind, I would suggest that you use either shiitake, shimeji, or king oyster.
2. If you want to make this vegetarian, you can omit bacon.
3. Place a clove of garlic on a cutting board and use the side of the knife to flatten the garlic. Make sure that the handle of the knife is positioned outside of the cutting board so that it won’t be in the way when flattening the garlic.
4. If you are not using butter, increase the olive oil by ½ tablespoon.
5. The idea is to cut/slice them into similar sizes so that they cook more easily together and look better when served.
6. I tilt the pan to collect the oil on the edge of the pan to give a sufficient depth to the oil to cover the garlic pieces.
Do not burn the garlic as it will make the oil bitter.
7. Wafu Mushroom Pasta does not take a long time to cook, but if you like you can make the sautéed mushrooms with flavouring ahead of time and store them in the fridge. You can keep them in the fridge for few days.
To make Wafū Mushroom Pasta, cook the pasta as per the instructions, heat up the mushrooms in a frying pan and mix the cooked pasta in. A small amount of pasta liquid might be good to add to the pasta.
8. Nutrition per serving.
serving: 303g calories: 690kcal fat: 28g (43%) saturated fat: 8.7g (43%) trans fat: 0.3g polyunsaturated fat: 3.6g monounsaturated fat: 13g cholesterol: 32mg (11%) sodium: 1114mg (46%) potassium: 838mg (24%) carbohydrates: 88g (29%) dietary fibre: 6.3g (25%) sugar: 8.1g protein: 22g vitamin a: 7% vitamin c: 5.5% calcium: 3.4% iron: 28%