Japan Eats

Recipe: Nanohana and bacon pasta

A bittersweet spring dish.

Nanohana (or rape-blossom in English) is representative of spring. Like wild vegetables such as fuki (butterbur), taranome (the buds of Japanese angelica) and udo, nanohana is a seasonal vegetable with a slight bitterness. For this reason, nanohana goes well with two of the dish’s other ingredients: butter and bacon. These add a sweetness that offsets the initial bitterness of the vegetable.

I recommend adding a little butter to the olive oil (or vegetable oil) to sauté the nanohana.

Nanohana and bacon pasta

Nanohana and bacon pasta

Ingredients (for 2 people)

  • 80 g of bacon (thinly sliced)
  • 140 – 150 g of rape blossom (canola)
  • 150 – 160 g spaghettini
  • 2 tablespoons of garlic (finely chopped)
  • 1 dried whole chilli pepper
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 10 g of butter
  • 4 tablespoons of spaghettini‘s broth
  • 2 tablespoons of soy sauce

Method

Place a large saucepan with 2 liters of cold water on a high heat and bring it to the boil. Add 20 g of salt, then cook the spaghettini.

As soon as you start to cook the spaghettini, you should also start preparing the sauce. Cut the bacon into slices 3 – 4 cm wide. Remove 1 – 2 cm from the bottom of the nanohana‘s stem, and cut into pieces 3 – 4 cm wide. You don’t need to remove the bottom of the stems if they are fresh and still soft.

Break the dried chilli pepper into 2 – 3 pieces and remove the seeds. Place a frying pan with olive oil, butter, finely chopped garlic and dried whole chilli pepper on a low heat and sauté the mixture until it produces an aroma.

Next add the bacon and sauté for another 1 – 2 minutes on the same low – medium heat.

Add the nanohana (stems first, then the leaves) mixing and softening them quickly.

Turn the heat down to low, and add 4 tablespoons of the spagettini‘s broth, mixing well. Add 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, mix again and turn off the heat.

Add the spaghettini, coating the pasta with sauce. Serve.

Recipe: Grilled asparagus with yuzukosho butter

It doesn’t get any simpler than this.

Yuzukosho. As we’ve mentioned before, it can be used to add a citrus ‘zing’ to just about anything. And when it’s mixed with butter, it makes a great addition to baked dishes – potatoes, fish, and so on.

Here, we’re using yuzukosho butter to enhance a spring favorite – grilled asparagus.

Prepare the dish immediately before serving to maximize the flavor of both the yuzukosho and asparagus.

Grilled asparagus with yuzukosho butter

Grilled asparagus with yuzukosho butter

Ingredients

  • 8 stalks of asparagus
  • 10 g of butter
  • 1 teaspoon of yuzukosho
  • A pinch of salt

Method

First prepare the yuzukosho butter. Remove the butter from the fridge and let it come to room temperature, then use your fingers to mix the butter with 1 teaspoon of yuzukosho.

Cut 1 or 2 centimeters from the bottom of each stalk of asparagus. Ideally, the stalks will be of equal length. Now peel the outer skin from the bottom 4 -5 centimeters of each stalk. Use half of the yuzukosho butter to coat them. Again, it’s best to do this with your fingers.

Line up the asparagus on a plate, and cover the stalks with the remaining yuzukosho butter. Sprinkle a pinch of salt.

Grill for 8 – 10 minutes at 180 degrees centigrade. Garnish with a slice of lemon (to be squeezed over the asparagus immediately before eating).