If you enjoy Japanese style (wafu) pasta, you’d love this Ume Shiso Pasta where simple ingredients bring out the best of a dish.
Have you tried Japanese style (wafu) pasta before? Japanese-style pasta is very popular in Japan, but outside of Japan they are typically not offered in Japanese restaurants. I’ve received many requests for Japanese-style pasta recipes from readers and today I’m going to share a popular wafu pasta recipe, Ume Shiso Pasta.
Watch How to Make Ume Shiso Pasta
Tasty Japanese style (wafu) pasta with chicken tender, shimeji mushrooms, and umeboshi, garnished with shiso leaves and shredded nori.
What are ume (梅) and shiso (しそ)?
Shiso (or shiso leaves or perilla) looks like this. It’s a popular Japanese herb used in many Japanese cooking recipes. It’s usually garnished on top of food or mixed in the ingredients. I’ve used it in many of my recipes including Salmon & Ikura Don to add green color and flavor to the dish, and also for decorating dishes like Chicken Nanban. You might have seen it when you ordered sashimi/sushi and the chef used shiso leaves as garnish. I introduced quite a few recipes with shiso in my first two years of blogging but learned that this is not an easy ingredient to purchase for a lot of readers. Therefore I’ve tried avoiding it in my recipes even though I love this Japanese herb. Shiso has a unique and refreshing flavor so I hope you can find it in your local Japanese grocery stores, or plant one in your herb garden (they are easy to grow).
Ume or umeboshi is Japanese salted plums or Japanese pickled plums that look like this. Umeboshi are a popular kind of Japanese pickles (Tsukemono) and they are extremely sour and salty. We usually serve umeboshi with rice or in Rice Balls (Onigiri). Shiso and umeboshi go well together and they are the key ingredients for creating the delicate and refreshing flavor for today’s pasta. If you can’t find umeboshi, you may substitute with Neri Ume (Japanese Umeboshi Plum Paste)
The key for tasty Ume Shiso Pasta is to keep ingredients minimal; otherwise, the pasta will be overwhelmed with too many flavors and you won’t be able to enjoy ume and shiso flavors. For this recipe, I added chicken and buna shimeji mushrooms and they work really well with ume and shiso.
I used chicken tender for this recipe because this part of the chicken is very tender and stays moist after it’s cooked. But if you cannot get chicken tenders in your local market, you can replace it with chicken breasts or thighs.
This dish requires only 20 minutes from start to finish and it is a perfect light meal for upcoming warm summer days. To be honest, this is probably one of my favorite Japanese-style pasta she made. I hope you give this a try. You’ll love how simple ingredients play well in this quick recipe.
Ume Shiso Pasta
- 8 oz spaghetti (4 oz/113 g per person)
- 10-20 shiso leaves (perilla/ooba) (I like to use a lot for more flavor)
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1.8 oz shimeji mushrooms (½ package)
- 2 pieces umeboshi (Japanese pickled plums)
- 4 pieces chicken tenders (these are also known as chicken fingers and chicken strips. I like to use this part of chicken because they are moist when cooked. These strips of white meat are located on either side of the breastbone, under the breast meat (pectoralis major).)
- ¼ tsp kosher or sea salt (I use Diamond Crystal; use half for table salt)
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 Tbsp all-purpose flour (plain flour)
- 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil (1 Tbsp for non stick pan)
- 1 Tbsp soy sauce
- ¼ cup shredded nori seaweed (kizami nori)
- Gather all the ingredients.
- Cook spaghetti according to the package instruction in lightly salted boiling water. However, as we will be further cooking spaghetti with the sauce, cook about 1 minute less than the package instruction. Make sure to reserve ½ cup of pasta cooking water before you drain the spaghetti into a colander.
- Meanwhile, roll up shiso leaves and julienne into thin strips.
- Slice garlic and discard the bottom part of buna shimeji mushrooms.
- Remove a seed from umeboshi and discard. Then mince into small pieces.
- Slice the chicken tender diagonally into 1 inch (2.5 cm) pieces (this cutting technique is called “sogigiri") and season them with salt and pepper.
- Sprinkle the flour over the chicken and coat it well with your hands.
- Heat the olive oil on medium high heat and cook garlic until fragrant.
- Add the chicken and cook until no longer pink. Then cook the shimeji mushrooms till coated with oil.
- Add half (¼ cup) of the reserved pasta cooking water, soy sauce, and umeboshi.
- When the chicken is coated with the sauce, add the spaghetti into the pan.
- Using a tong, coat the spaghetti well with the sauce. If you need more sauce, add the pasta cooking water and soy sauce and adjust the flavor. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to your taste.
- Garnish with shiso leaves and shredded nori on top.
- You can keep the leftovers in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days and in the freezer for a month.