Miso-Butter and Shiitake Pasta
This Miso-Butter and Shiitake Pasta is mind-blowingly delicious with hints of caramely and nutty with an almost citrusy finish, it’s a uniquely nuanced flavor profile unlike any pasta you’ve ever had before.
Miso and Butter. Oh, yes. They are a magical combination, and one you need to try together. I’ve talked about it before, actually, but it’s time to revisit with a more Autumnal flavor profile.
I stumbled upon this idea when I had an almost empty fridge and no time before the evening hangries kicked in. I opened up my fridge and wondered what in the world I was going to cook and how I’d let myself procrastinate thinking about dinner until so late in the day. And I looked and saw my container of miso, a stick of butter, a package of shiitake, scallions, and I’m not sure if it was the from the low blood sugar must-eat-now delirium, but I had a crazy lightbulb moment. My poor family has to eat a lot of experiments, some good some baaaaaaaaad, and I just had a feeling this one was going to be good. I ran out and snipped some shiso from my garden and got to work. And it was better than I imagined. And with a big pile of steamed veg on the side, it quickly became a regular in our dinner rotation.
So, what makes it so good, you ask? Let’s break it down. First, miso.
Miso is a salty fermented (a.k.a. tons of probiotics!) soy bean paste, and is most famous for the beloved Japanese Miso soup. It has such a rich, salty, umami-bursting flavor, that when diluted in dashi, makes the perfect backdrop for all sorts of vegetables. But something magical happens to miso when it’s combined with quality butter. It mellows out significantly, and takes on a nutty, almost caramel-ly character. And provides a beautiful backdrop for bolder, brighter flavors like sassy green onions and citrusy shiso (perilla) without being taken over and ignored.
Speaking of shiso …
There’s nothing quite like shiso. And it’s so hard to find here in the U.S., so I grow it myself. And as much as I wish I could invite all over you over to pick some overrun shiso so you can make this dish, it’s not really possible. So all I can say is, if you can find it, BUY IT. If you can’t, I’ll cry with you, tell you where to buy the seeds for next Summer or for your indoor herb garden, and tell you to try some other grassy-flavored soft herbs like parsley or cilantro. The flavors are completely different, but they’ll work beautifully in this dish as well. But seriously, you need to try shiso.
Do you and shiitake really need an introduction? It’s the best mushroom on the planet. My favorite, anyway. And of course it’s perfect for a Japanese-palate inspired pasta dish. It has such a depth of flavor and the fragrance is out of this world. And it’s a nod back to the classic miso soup, which my mom almost always added shiitake to when I was a kid. That combination just feels like home to me.
I must be on a 30 minute meal kick lately, because my last 3 posts have been, and it makes sense, right? We’re all busier than we’d like to be, and we’d rather be spending time with the people we love than slaving over a stove. I get it. So I hope this also helps. It sure makes me happy when I add it to my weekly menu.
- 1 lb spaghetti
- fine sea salt, for cooking pasta & seasoning mushrooms
- 2 tablespoons miso, preferably non-GMO and organic
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, preferably grassfed, separated
- 8 ounces shiitake mushrooms, wiped clean, stems removed, and sliced thinly
- 2 scallions, thinly sliced
- 3~4 shiso leaves, thinly sliced, optional
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add 2 tablespoons of salt, and cook spaghetti for about 8 minutes, stirring often, until al dente.* Drain immediately, reserving at least 1/2 cup of the starchy pasta cooking water. Do not rinse.
- Meanwhile, In a large sauté pan, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter over medium-high heat. Add the shiitake, and season with a small pinch of salt. Cook, tossing occasionally, until the mushrooms have browned and absorbed the butter. Take it off of the heat and add miso and remaining butter, stirring to dissolve the miso and distribute evenly. Add the hot pasta to the sauté pan and toss thoroughly, adding starchy pasta cooking water a few tablespoons at a time to loosen the sauce as needed. Serve topped with scallions and shiso.
- *It should be barely cooked through but still have a slight firmness to it.
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