Years ago, Alex and I spent the afternoon at Greenbelt where we had late lunch at a Japanese fusion restaurant that has since closed. Too bad, really, because the food was superb although the prices were a bit steep. I can’t recall the name of the restaurant anymore. But I still remember the lovely Japanese carbonara that Alex and I shared there and which inspired this recipe.
This is actually the second recipe inspired by that Japanese fusion lunch. The first one had strips of bonito flakes and roasted nori, no cream and no eggs. I like this one better.
To make Alex’s Japanese carbonara, toss angel hair pasta and bacon with cream and salted egg powder. Sprinkle with bonito flakes and furikake, and dig in.
Salted egg powder? Why not raw eggs like traditional Italian carbonara? Well, for safety reasons. Salmonella, you know. Eggs have to reach a temperature of 160F (71C) or hotter to make sure that you can’t catch salmonella. The temperature is hard to measure when tossing raw eggs with hot pasta.
Just imagine it. You have hot noodles in a pan with the heat off. You pour in the beaten eggs, whatever touches the noodles might get hot enough but not the part of the eggs that stay on the surface for the first few seconds before you start tossing. And the moment you start tossing, the temperature of the noodles drop immediately because the raw eggs are at room temperature. If you want to use a thermometer, where do you poke it and when?
So, to take the guesswork out of the equation, why not just cream and salted egg powder? The texture of the sauce is similar and you get all the egg-y goodness too. Not possible if you use cream with no salted egg powder.
Okay? Here’s the recipe.
Alex's Japanese Carbonara
Roughly chop the bacon and fry in an oil-free pan over medium heat until browned and crisp. Scoop out and set aside.
Cook the pasta in boiling water with a teaspoonful of salt (see how to cook pasta like a pro).
Stir the cream and salted egg powder until smooth.
Drain the pasta, dump into the pan with the bacon fat and pour in the cream mixture. Add the pepper and toss.
Add the bacon and toss again.
Divide the pasta among three bowls. Sprinkle with bonito flakes and furikake. Serve immediately.