Itameshi, which literally translates into “Italian food,” has become synonymous with the Japanese take on Italian cuisine. When traveling throughout Japan, you may come across a few of these unique itameshi dishes including mentaiko (cod roe) pasta, tuna and corn pizza, and Napolitan spaghetti topped with a fried egg.
Udon Alla Puttanesca belongs to the itameshi category and is a type of wafu pasta, or Japanese-style pasta. Wafu (written 和風 in kanji) means “Japanese-style” and is often applied to items that originated in Western culture but were altered to suit the Japanese market, culture, or palate. As Italian and Japanese cuisine both heavily feature noodles, wafu pasta is a logical and delicious union of the two cooking styles. Other examples of wafu foods include wafu salad dressing and wafu hamburger steak.
This recipe includes all of the ingredients found in an authentic Neapolitan sauce, but replaces traditional spaghetti noodles with udon, imparting the dish with a delectable chew rather than the typical al dente bite. While spaghetti is made with hard durum wheat, udon is made with soft white wheat, giving it its signature springy, yet supple bite. When the udon noodles are finished off in the puttanesca, the residual starch allows the sauce to cling to the noodles.
With just a few ingredients (many of which are pantry staples!), this spicy and savory dish comes together quickly. If you’re looking for a fun way to switch things up, look no further than this intriguing Japanese-Italian fusion dish.
- 250g udon noodles (we recommend using 5 grain beauty udon)
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves (crushed)
- 2 dry chili peppers (chopped)
- 25g anchovies in oil
- 10g capers
- 800g tomatoes (peeled)
- 100g black olives
- 1 bunch parsley (chopped)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Cook the udon noodles as per the directions on the package. Drain and rinse under cold water.
- Separately, cook the oil, garlic and chili peppers in a large pan for 2 mins on high heat.
- Reduce the heat and add the anchovies and capers. Cook for 5 mins stirring often.
- Add the peeled tomatoes and cook for 10 mins. Then add the olives and fresh chopped parsley.
- Add the udon noodles and cook together for 1 minute. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot.
Recipe intro provided by Britney Budiman
Britney Budiman (@booritney) is a writer, minimalist, aspiring effective altruist, and runner-in-progress with a penchant for saying “yes.” Previously, she has worked in Cambodia at a traditional arts NGO, in Brazil as a social sciences researcher, and in San Francisco at a housing start-up. She currently lives in the countryside of Kagoshima, Japan, where she teaches English. Her favorite thing in the world is good conversation.