Creamy Mushroom and Bacon Pasta with a Japanese twist! A dash of soy sauce is the secret ingredient that gives nice umami and savoriness to the dish.
Whether it’s a Monday dinner for the family or a Friday date night, no one can dispute the idea of a rich, comforting and oh-so-good pasta like this Creamy Mushroom and Bacon Pasta. And yes, the Japanese love pasta just like anyone else. We love noodles and carbs, and we enjoy experimenting with global dishes, giving them some new dimension with our very own Japanese twist.
Creamy Mushroom and Bacon Pasta with a Japanese Twist!
In Japanese cuisine, there’s a thing calls the Japanese-style pasta or what we call Wafu Pasta (和風パスタ). They are essentially Italian pasta dishes that include a few Japanese condiments, and sometimes Japanese ingredients.
In this Creamy Mushroom and Bacon Pasta, for example, I added shiitake mushrooms and shimeji mushrooms, to give new life to the western-style noodle dish. I also added a splash of soy sauce into the cream. You don’t need a lot of soy sauce here, but just the right amount to lend nice umami, depth, and savoriness.
Some other condiments like miso, sake, tonkatsu sauce are also commonly used in western dishes (pasta, soup, main dishes etc). You don’t have to save Japanese condiments for Japanese food. Have fun experimenting!
Here are some of Wafu Pasta recipes on the blog:
- Easy Wafu Pasta with Shrimp and Asparagus
- Classic Mentaiko Pasta
- Ume Shiso Pasta
- Naporitan (Ketchup Spaghetti)
Versatile Creamy Mushroom and Bacon Pasta
This recipe calls for 4 main ingredients: pasta, bacon, mushroom, and garlic, which are staples in the kitchen. But feel free to replace them with pretty much any other ingredients from your fridge. Here are some of my suggestions that would go with this creamy sauce.
Vegetables & Mushrooms
- Portobello mushrooms
- Oyster mushrooms
- Chanterelle mushrooms
- Enoki mushrooms
Do you have any other good idea? Please share in the comments below!
5 Tips to Remember When Making Pasta
The following tips will apply to the majority of pasta recipes you’ll be cooking.
- Use 4 quarts (4 L) of water for ½ to 1 lb of pasta.
- Add 1 ½ tablespoon of kosher salt (if table salt, use half) to the water.
- Typically, cook 4 oz (113 g, ¼ lb) of dried pasta per person.
- Cook pasta till al dente; slightly undercooked or “firm to the bite”.
- Reserve ½ cup (120 ml) pasta cooking water just in case you need to dilute your pasta sauce.
Love of Italian Food in Japan
If you have never been to Japan, it’s probably hard to imagine that the Japanese cook and eat western food quite often. In fact, Italian restaurants are everywhere in Japan, and I mean everywhere. At home, we cook all kinds of pasta, some are with a Japanese twist (we call this type “Wafu Pasta” 和風パスタ).
Several years ago I read an article in the San Francisco Chronicle about the growing Japanese influence on San Francisco food (It’s an interesting article to read if you have time). In the article, the editor Michael Bauer mentioned that chef David Kinch at Manresa said, “the best French and Italian restaurants in the world outside of France and Italy are in Japan. It is that amazing.” My neighborhood Italian restaurants in Yokohama serve superb Italian food compared to the local Italian restaurants here in my neighborhood in the US.
When you’re in Japan and got tired of eating Japanese food, try an Italian restaurant and you might be pleasantly surprised!
Creamy Mushroom and Bacon Pasta
For the pasta
- 8 oz pasta (spaghetti, linguine, or fettuccine; 4 oz/113 g per person)
- 4 quarts water
- 1 ½ Tbsp kosher/sea salt (I use Diamond Crystal; use half for table salt)
For the creamy sauce
- 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
- freshly ground black pepper
- 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour (plain flour)
- 1 cup milk
- ⅓ cup heavy (whipping) cream
- 1 Tbsp soy sauce
- ⅛ tsp kosher/sea salt (I use Diamond Crystal; use half for table salt)
- Gather all the ingredients.
- Add 1 ½ Tbsp salt in 4 quarts (4L) of water and bring it to a boil for cooking spaghetti. Meanwhile, prepare the rest of the ingredients. Once water is boiling, add spaghetti and cook according to package instructions. Tip 1: Stop cooking 1 minute earlier as you will continue to cook pasta in the frying pan. Tip 2: Before draining the pasta, reserve ½ cup (120 ml) pasta cooking water. Drain well and set aside.
- Cut the bacon slices into ½ inch (1.25 cm) pieces.
- Cut the bottom of the mushrooms and slice them. Cut the bottom end of shimeji mushrooms.
- Remove the stem of shiitake mushrooms and slice them.
- In a large frying pan, heat 1 ½ Tbsp olive oil on medium heat. Note: if you use a non-stick frying pan, you can skip the oil.
- Once the oil is hot, add the bacon and sauté.
- Once the bacon fat renders, crush 2 cloves garlic and add into the pan.
- Add all the mushrooms and saute together. Add 1 Tbsp butter and freshly ground black pepper.
- Add the flour and make sure to keep stirring so the flour doesn’t stick at the bottom of the pan.
- Stir in 1 cup milk, ⅓ cup heavy cream, and 1 Tbsp soy sauce. Continue scraping off the bottom of the pan. Flour will thicken the sauce.
- Taste the sauce and add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste if necessary. If the sauce is too thick, you can add ¼ cup of pasta cooking water (after that, add a tablespoon one at a time) to dilute the sauce. Tip: You want to make sure it tastes a bit stronger than you want the final dish to be (because you will add spaghetti).
- Add cooked spaghetti in the frying pan, or alternatively, you can pour the sauce over the spaghetti on a serving plate. Using the pair of tongs, coat the spaghetti with the sauce.
- If you like, add freshly ground black pepper. Serve and garnish with parsley.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on March 9, 2011. It was updated with new images in February 2019.