Do you want to ring in the holiday season sipping on a gorgeous violet, citrusy cocktail? Silly question- of course you do! These Butterfly Pea Cocktails will turn heads at any holiday gathering you have. Watching it turn colors is mesmerizing! And it’s packed with read more
Author: Funky Asian Kitchen
Soboro Beef bowls are a popular family meal in Japan. Soboro refers to highly seasoned and minced protein typically served with steamed rice and veggies. Endlessly customizable, I make mine with ground beef, scrambled eggs, and snap peas. You can choose ground chicken or turkey, read more
We all know that pasta is universally beloved, and the ultimate in convenience. So it is always a good idea to have several quick and easy pasta recipes that you can whip up at a moment’s notice. Tarako Spaghetti is one of the most popular pasta dishes in Japan. With its briny and garlicky flavor, it’s easy to see why. It’s so simple and really shakes up your noodle routine, let me show you how!
Tarako is a very common ingredient in Japan. It’s fish roe, or caviar, from Alaskan pollock from the cod family. The word actually means child of cod, which is a pretty poetic way of saying eggs. It has a distinctly briny salty flavor that adds a lot of flavor to simple foods. So tarako is often eaten as a side dish to steamed rice, as a filling for omusubi, or a seasoning for snacks like crackers.
If you are a caviar fan, this is definitely the recipe for you. A lot of recipes for Tarako Spaghetti add soy sauce or cream. I prefer to let the clean ocean flavor of the roe shine through without a lot of embellishment. Also, depending on the brand, tarako can be lightly salted or aggressively salty, so I would wait until the end to adjust the seasoning.
Tarako is sold in its membrane-like sac, which is edible (and yummy!) Some people split the sacs open, and spoon out the eggs, but I like the extra oomph and texture it adds to the spaghetti by just cutting it into coins. My daughters love Tarako, so they get an extra thrill when there are big chunks swirled into the noodles.
Tarako is preserved in salt, and is usually sold frozen in Asian markets here in the US. It will last indefinitely (or until freezer burn hits) in the freezer, so that’s where I keep mine. It defrosts pretty quickly, so I just take it out when I’m ready to start cooking or transfer it to the fridge the night before. If refrigerated, it should be used within a week.
Making Tarako Spaghetti
This is one of those uber-easy pastas where it’s basically ready when the noodles are cooked. I start with a quick prep of the ingredients.
I like a combination of olive oil and butter for this dish. The bright fruity olive oil mixed with the creamy lushness of butter is amazing. The amount of garlic may seem like a lot, but sliced garlic is actually more subtle than minced garlic and few things are as heavenly as garlic bubbling in olive oil.
When cooking the tarako, keep the heat on medium. High heat tends to create a lot of steam, which will send bits of tarako flying all over the place.
Normally when I cook western style pasta, I salt the water. Since tarako is already preserved in salt, I skip this step, but I do reserve some of the cooking water to help loosen up the sauce.
Tarako Spaghetti, with its mix of Western and Eastern ingredients is such a fun and satisfying pasta dish. Give it a try and let me know what you think. Rate and comment on the recipe below; we love hearing from you! And show off your creations by tagging us @funkyasiankitchen.
- 8 ounces tarako
- 3 large cloves garlic
- 3 scallions
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 pound Spaghetti
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Cut the tarako into ¼ inch slices. Set aside.
- Trim the ends off of the scallions and then cut the scallions on an angle into thin ⅛” pieces. Set aside.
- Thinly slice the garlic and set aside.
- Heat a large 12” skillet over medium heat (you can also do this in a dutch oven). Add the olive oil and the butter. Swirl the pan to coat with the oil.
- Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, moving it around the pan to cook evenly. Add the tarako and let it cook for one minute undisturbed. Using chopsticks or a heat proof spatula, stir-fry the tarako gently for another minute. Turn off the heat and set the pan aside while you cook the pasta.
- Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot. Add the spaghetti and cook it according to the instructions on the package for al dente pasta.
- Before draining the pasta, reserve ¼ cup of cooking water.
- Drain the pasta and add it to the pan of tarako. Turn the heat to medium high and using a pair of tongs, toss the pasta and the tarako together.
- Add 2-3 tablespoons of pasta water to the pan to loosen up the sauce and help coat the strands of pasta. Season with ground black pepper and stir to combine.
- Taste a strand of pasta and add a little salt if needed. (Different tarako brands have varying degrees of saltiness and can be quite salty.)
- Add the scallions, toss one more time and then pile the pasta onto a platter or individual serving plates. Serve immediately.
As you probably know by now, I’m always looking for quick veggie sides, and these Stir Fried Pea Shoots are one of my favorites. If you’ve never eaten pea shoots before, you are in for a treat. Enjoyed throughout Asia, pea shoots are the leaves from a pea plant, usually snow or sugar snap peas. They are mild and sweet, and have a hint of pea flavor.
I funk them up with a blast of dried anchovies and oyster sauce, while Shaoxing wine amplifies their natural sweetness. Stir fries are a busy cook’s best friend; as long as you have your ingredients prepped and ready, the actual cooking part takes just a couple minutes. You can whip up Stir Fried Pea Shoots in a flash while your main, maybe Chicken Adobo, is simmering away.
Stir Fry Prep
If you are the kind of cook that chops and measures and pours as you go, you need to rein that in for stir frying. A successful stir fry depends on having all your ingredients washed, chopped, measured, and within easy reach of the stove top. Wash and drain the pea shoots, slice the garlic, peel and shred the ginger, and get out the bottles for the sauces with measuring spoons. Having everything prepped and within reach makes stir frying a breeze. Plus you don’t run the risk of burning one ingredient while you frantically look in the pantry for that bottle of toasted sesame oil you just know is somewhere.
A quick tip. You can always turn the stove off. I know that sounds stupid and obvious but stir frying is done at extremely high temperatures and for such a short period of time. That extra minute of high heat while you’re having problems pouring something out or go hunting for a forgotten ingredient will scorch the food in the pan, and not in a good way. So if you need to walk away, turn the stove off. It’s ok, it will still be there when you get back 😉
The other stir fry essential is a hot pan. Let it heat for several minutes (you will see a bit of steam/fumes come off the pan) before adding the oil. You don’t want to add the oil before heating the pan, or it will smoke and get bitter.
Then move the garlic and ginger mixture to the side of the pan and start feeding handfuls of pea shoots into the pan. Add the greens with one hand while you continue to stir with the other.
I drizzle the toasted sesame oil on last so its delicate flavor doesn’t get cooked off.
This whole process takes just about 5 minutes. Once I add the sesame oil, I take the Stir Fried Pea Shoots off the heat and serve. So if you are going to serve them as a side, they are amazing served alongside Miso Salmon or Hambagu, plan accordingly and start the stir fry when your main is almost finished. Or make a meal out of several veggie sides like Funky Spicy Green Beans and Roasted Cauliflower. However you choose to enjoy these Stir Fried Pea Shoots, we want to hear about it! Leave a comment, rate the recipe, and of course tag us in your pics @funkyasiankitchen.
- ½ pound snow pea shoots
- 2 Tablespoons neutral oil
- ¼ cup boiled and dried baby anchovies
- 3 cloves garlic sliced
- 1 Tablespoon peeled and shredded ginger
- 2 Tablespoons shaoxing wine
- 1 Tablespoon oyster sauce
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- Fresh black pepper to taste
- Wash and rinse snow pea shoots in a colander under running water. Let it drain in the sink while you heat up the pan.
- Have all of your ingredients lined up next to the stove because the cooking process is just a couple of minutes and goes very quickly.
- Heat a large 12” skillet over high heat for several minutes until you see some fumes coming off the pan. Add the oil, ginger, and garlic. Stir fry for a couple of seconds and push it to the side of the pan. Add the snow pea shoots by handfuls with one hand as you are stir frying with the other.
- Keep moving the pea shoots around for a couple of seconds as they shrink down.
- Add the anchovies and continue to stir fry for another couple seconds.
- Add the shaoxing wine and oyster sauce and continue to stir fry for another 30 seconds until the pea shoots are a vibrant green and just cooked through. Season with fresh ground pepper to taste and the sesame oil. Stir for a final time.
- Turn off the heat, transfer to a plate, and serve immediately.