Karasumi and Daikon Pasta

karasumi (bottarga) pasta

It’s hard to believe it’s been two weeks since my last post. During that time, I took part in a weekend that included roasting a whole pig at a ranch in Sonoma were there was no cell reception or Internet access (gasp!). I cooked and photographed food for two cookbooks. And I’ve been floating between New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Despite a somewhat chaotic schedule, I managed to find some time to literally toss together this delicious karasumi pasta.

Karasumi (bottarga)

Karasumi is the Japanese equivalent of Bottarga. It’s made by curing the roe sac of mullet in salt over the span of a couple weeks. This dries out the roe, intensifying it’s flavors while preserving it. Back in the day, it was even thought of as poor man’s caviar. Once cured, it’s briny, and full of umami with a waxy texture that clings to your teeth.

Karasumi makes for a terrific canape and is consumed around the world with various accompaniments such as olive oil, garlic, and lemon. My favorite way of having it is sandwiched between two thin slices of daikon radish. The crisp peppery radish makes for the perfect foil to wrap up the salty amber slivers of shaved karasumi. It’s a combo that goes great with a glass of your favorite alcoholic beverage, but I wanted to turn these flavors into more than just a tapa.

Drawing some inspiration from the Sardinian classic, Spaghetti alla Bottarga, I decided to turn my karasumi daikon canape into a pasta. Rather than slicing the daikon, I grated it, which helps it incorporate into the pasta better. Since the daikon was relatively young and came with a beautiful green tuft of greens on top, sauteed them in olive oil and tossed them along with the pasta and karasumi.

It’s a rich decadent pasta that’s balanced out with a peppery sweetness coming from the grated daikon and a just a hint of bitterness from the daikon greens. If you can’t find young daikon with greens still attached, watercress would make a great substitute.

Karasumi and Daikon Pasta

2-3 servings

8 ounces dried pasta such as spagetti or linguine
3 tablespoons olive oil
leaves of 1 small daikon radish chopped
1/3 cup grated daikon radish with extra juice strained out
1 sac of Karasumi or Bottarga grated on a Microplane (reserve a little to top the pasta with)

Boil the pasta in well salted water for slightly less than the package recommends (my pasta said 11 minutes, I cooked it for 10).

After draining the pasta, put the hot pot back on the stove and add the olive oil. Add the daikon leaves and quickly saute. Add the pasta, then stir fry to coat with oil. Add the grated daikon and Karasumi and toss to distribute evenly, then plate immediately. Top with the reserved grated karasumi and serve immediately.

  • http://theindolentcook.blogspot.com/ the indolent cook

    Interesting ingredients for a pasta dish! I don’t know if I’ve had karasumi before – but it sounds good!

  • James

    Is karasumi like mentaiko(明太子)? I have had a great pasta with that as an ingredient in Japan as well. Thanks for the recipe!

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      Mentaiko makes a great pasta too, but this is something different.
      It’s just like the Italian Bottarga. It’s very hard and has a waxy
      cheese-like texture, which makes it perfect for grating, is much less
      fishy than mentaiko, and has more flavor. I should have thought of
      this when writing the post, but it really is a lot like cheese.

  • http://stickygooeycreamychewy.com Susan @ SGCC

    What a lovely Springtime pasta dish! I adore bottarga – when I can get my hands on some. I recently heard that a local guy around here has started making his own, and I definitely want in on that!

  • Alison

    This looks delicious! Does anyone know of a good Japanese Italian restaurant in New York City?

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      Basta Pasta used to be my favorite but is was terrible the last time I
      went so they may have gone down hill… The other option is Greenwich
      Grill in Tribeca which I’ve never liked.

  • Fay_irvan

    Very nice and easy-to-follow Japanese-Italian combination recipe! Will be a good option for Asian and Western food lovers who want to do home cooking like me. I shall share the recipe with my partner. Can you suggest to replace Karasumi with anything else that taste similarly?
    Fay Irvanto

  • Jean

    Spaghetti all Bottarga is one of my favorite dishes. I have some bottarga sitting in the fridge waiting to be used but it was a bit hard to find. I wonder if I’ll be able to find karasumi easily here in the SF Bay Area. I would love to pick some up to give it a try. Thanks for the introduction to karasumi, Marc!

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      I’ve only had Bottarga a few times, but it’s very similiar to
      Karasumi, so you should be able to use the two interchangeably.

  • http://smalltownoven.wordpress.com/ Sharlene

    This looks fresh and inventive. Reading through your comments, I saw that Basta Pasta was mentioned. I’ve been wanting to try it out for awhile now. I hope your last visit was an exception to their norm!

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      I went for lunch which may have been the problem as every other time
      was for dinner.

  • http://cheapbeets.wordpress.com/ Molly Parr

    Oh my goodness. Salty fish roe and peppery radish, all smoothed and balanced out by pasta. Can’t wait to try this.

  • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

    You can replace the karasumi with Italian Bottarga which is
    essentially the same thing.

  • http://chicagosdomesticdiva.blogspot.com Alana D

    Thats something you just dont see everyday, looks great!

  • http://voodooandsauce.com Heather

    Oh, I love bitter greens with fatty/salty flavors. It’s really the best balance, and doing it with pasta is inspired.

    And you say you don’t trust fusion.

  • tasteofbeirut

    I always learn about ingredients and creative ways to use them with you; this one I have never tried but now am eager to!

  • http://twitter.com/sugarbardiva davina

    What an interesting pasta dish and creative! :) I’m excited to hear about this cookbook but I’m sure it was nice as a breather to be away from technology for a while. x

  • http://iamafeeder.net Jackie

    Mhm, looks gorgeous! And you have been a busy bee, Marc. Very excited to see the fruits of your labours, soon =)

    Jax x

  • http://www.hornypharaoh.com Martha

    It sure looks delicious! I also love the healthy ingredients. Very tasty recipe. Thanks!

  • Amychien

    Amazing! My grandma is always giving me karasumi and I usually just eat it toasted, thinly sliced with some green onions, I never knew you could make stuff with it! I will try this immediately!

  • Nataliewheeless

    Is this an actual traditional Asian food??

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      It depends on what you consider traditional. Karasumi and daikon are a pairing that have been around for a long time in Japan. Italian pasta is a relatively recent (last 50 years) thing here, but combining roe with pasta (such as mentai spaghetti) is pretty old.

  • floridaharvest

    Difficult ingredient to come by.

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      I’m guessing by your name that you live in Florida. There’s a guy somewhere in Florida that makes Karasumi and sells it under the Italian name Bottarga. You can also try looking in an Italian specialty foods store.

  • Pingback: Unique Food: Daikon | Live in the Now | Natural Health News | Natural Health Resources()


I'm Marc, and I want to teach you some basic techniques and give you the confidence and inspiration so that you can cook without recipes too!

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