RECIPE: Wafu “Spaghetti Squash Spaghetti” with shimeji mushrooms and bacon

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Wafu “Spaghetti Squash” Spaghetti

We love Japanese “yoshoku” (Japanese style western food); there is always an abundance of Japanese ingredients in my pantry. This style of cuisine is very popular in Vancouver and there are few restaurants which serve this style of dishes. It is also very easy to find the ingredients to make our own version at home.  More than a week ago I was discussing this topic with my twin “Green Apron”, I decided to make my own version and added my own twist, Baked Spaghetti Squash.  Mushrooms and Squash are in season now; with this version we can enjoy more vegetables and feel just as satiated.  This is a homemade and light recipe, all measurements are approximate; always adjust according to your own taste and dietary concerns.

Ingredients (serves 2 – 4)

1 medium spaghetti squash (yields approx. 2 cups), 150 g pasta (1 cup cooked – spaghettini or angel hair), 2 strips of bacon (small bite size, I used organic), 3 cloves of garlic (minced), 1 small onion (thinly sliced),  2 packages of shimeji mushrooms (I used organic bunashimeji, approximately 300 grams), 2 teaspoons olive oil, 1 1/2 Tablespoons Dashi Soy Sauce, 1 1/2 Tablespoons Japanese Soy Sauce (I used low sodium organic), sake (one teaspoon), salt, shichimi togarashi**optional (Japanese seven flavoured chili powder) and/or black pepper **optional to taste, bonito flakes (katsuoboshi, handful), seaweed strips (handful)

Preparation:

– Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees (F)

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Almost ready to scrape and scoop!

– Clean spaghetti squash and cut it in half (sharp knife required and be careful!), remove the seeds; place squash on baking sheet (lined with foil), cut side down.  Pre-cut squash cooks faster, baked until it’s done takes approximately 35 minutes.  Let the squash cool about 10 minutes then using a fork, scrape the sides of the squash lengthwise, scoop them out and place them in a bowl, set aside.  Handle with care as they are fragile.

– For shimeji mushrooms, slice about 1/2 inch off the cluster (discard) and separate them.

– Cook pasta in salted water (do not over salt) according to instructions, or until al dente

– Using deep skillet, Add 1 teaspoon of olive oil and lightly saute the bacon (for this recipe, the bacon is not crispy), remove bacon from pan and set aside;

– Using the same pan (with bacon oil and adjust the heat to high, add remaining olive oil, then onions, stirring occasionally and cook until lightly browned

– Add mushrooms, garlic and sake (just a splash), cook for approximately 2 to 3 minutes (you can hear the squeaky sound but no liquid release, fully cook mushrooms without browning), return bacon to pan, add half the dashi soy, season with black pepper (lightly).

– Lower the flame to medium, add cooked pasta to mixture, using tongs, toss well for a minute or two ; then gently incorporate the spaghetti squash, add remaining dashi soy and soy sauce, mix well.  Season with more soy sauce (if necessary to taste, black pepper and/or shichimi (optional).

– To serve, garnish with seaweed and bonito flakes. Enjoy!

Notes:

– Most of the Japanese ingredients can now be purchased at supermarkets or your local Japanese food stores (Vancouverites can visit Fujiya on Clark in East Vancouver or Izumi-ya on Alderbridge Way in Richmond).  Here in Vancouver Dashi Soy is only available at Japanese food stores.  For a healthier version and if you have time, you can prepare your own dashi soy; some other home cooks use tsuyu (Japanese noodle dipping sauce) as substitute.  To make it entirely vegetarian, skip the bacon.

– Instead of olive oil, using butter will add more flavour and round off the dish very nicely as it goes well with shimeji mushrooms.

– To keep it “wafu” style, you can omit the “heat” (no black pepper/shichimi), it’s a personal choice.

– Using the spaghetti squash is my own preference; at Cafe de L’Orangerie (1320 West 73rd Avenue, Vancouver), they add Japanese cabbage and use more pasta.  Do not over bake the squash as it gets mushy; I have yet to master the cooking time and scooping technique to get long strands (OO)

– There are many varieties of Japanese style spaghetti; you can find more recipes on Cookpad and elsewhere on the Internet, there are cooking demos on Youtube.

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