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
In Japanese cuisine, there’s a thing called 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 to 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, and 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 Wafu Pasta recipes on the blog:
- Easy Wafu Pasta with Shrimp and Asparagus
- Classic Mentaiko Pasta
- Ume Shiso Pasta
- Napolitan (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 ideas? 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 tablespoons 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
- 1½ Tbsp Diamond Crystal kosher salt
For the Creamy Sauce
For the Garnish
- Gather all the ingredients.
- Add 1½ Tbsp Diamond Crystal kosher salt and 4 quarts water to a large pot and bring it to a boil for cooking the spaghetti. Meanwhile, prepare the rest of the ingredients. Once the water is boiling, add 8 oz pasta and cook according to package instructions. Tip 1: Stop cooking 1 minute earlier as you will continue to cook the 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 4 slices bacon into ½-inch (1.25-cm) pieces.
- Cut the bottom of 4 cremini mushrooms and slice them. Cut the bottom end of 1.8 oz shimeji mushrooms.
- Remove the stems of 4 shiitake mushrooms and slice the caps.
- In a large frying pan, heat 1½ Tbsp extra virgin olive oil on medium heat. Note: If you use a nonstick 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 sauté together. Add 1 Tbsp unsalted butter and freshly ground black pepper.
- Add 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour (plain 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 (whipping) cream, and 1 Tbsp soy sauce. Continue scraping off the bottom of the pan. The flour will thicken the sauce.
- Taste the sauce and add ⅛ tsp Diamond Crystal kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. If the sauce is too thick, you can add ¼ cup of pasta cooking water (after that, add one tablespoon 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 the spaghetti).
- Add the cooked spaghetti to 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‘d 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.