Pasta Carbonara

Pasta Carbonara - Japanese style carbonara pasta

Pasta alla Carbonara is one of my favourite fall-back meals when there is nothing else to cook. All you really need is some dried pasta, cured pork, cheese and an egg to pull off a delightfully rich and satisfying meal. In Japan, パスタ カルボナラ has become a staple of corner cafes and can even be found on the menu at Denny’s.

Perhaps the biggest difference with Japanese Pasta Carbonara is that they top the finished pasta with an onsen tamago(slow cooked egg). Not authentic to be sure, but certainly not as sacrilegious as adding cream. I really like the addition of the slow cooked egg because it highlights the egg as a key ingredient and not just a mere thickener for the sauce.

Pasta alla Carbonara

I’m pretty picky about the texture of my pasta, and am often too lazy to head to the grocery store to buy fresh pasta, so I usually end up making my own own pasta at home. My rationale is that fresh pasta cooks faster than dried pasta, so in the end it takes about the same amount of time to make my own pasta than it does to boil some out of a box (well not really, but just play along). That’s why when Monique from Al Dente Pasta contacted me, offering samples of a 3 minute dried pasta, I was intrigued (though admittedly skeptical).

The egg fettuccine which promises a 3 minute cooking time took nearly 4 minutes till it had lost its crunchy center, but it still cooked much faster than normal dried pasta. More importantly, it lived up to its al dente namesake, yielding tender thin strands of pasta that had just the right amount of toothsome chew.

My only big gripe was with the way it’s packaged. They come clumped into an unruly mass in plastic bags, so the delicate pasta tends to break into little pieces. In my package, the longest strands measured only a few inches. If you’re the type that cuts up your pasta this may work in your favor, but personally I like my pasta to have a bit more length.

Pasta Carbonara

1.5 oz freshly grated pecorino romano
1 large raw egg
freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbs olive oil
1/4 lbs guanciale, pancetta or bacon
1 small shallot minced
2 slow cooked eggs (not the same as a poached egg)
chopped chives

6 oz pasta (spaghetti, linguine, fettuccine) boiled according to package directions

Put the pecorino and black pepper in a large bowl and set aside.

Boil the pasta according to the package directions and drain.

Add the olive oil to the pot you boiled the pasta in and fry the guanciale (or pancetta or bacon) and shallots until it is cooked and the shallots are fragrant. Add the drained pasta to the pot and toss to coat.

Dump the pasta into the bowl with the cheese and pepper then break the raw egg on top. Toss to distribute the egg and cheese evenly then plate the pasta. Top each bowl of pasta with a slow cooked egg and sprinkle with chives.

  • http://foodhuntress.blogspot.com/ enrisa marie

    First. I know that carbonara with the onsen tamago you’re talking about. I had it at Jonathan’s near Kappabashi, and when I got back home I started working on Japanese pasta. You’re very generous to share how to make onsen tamago because whenever people ask how I do it (neither poached nor boiled) I don’t give them the answer. :)

  • http://foodhuntress.blogspot.com enrisa marie

    First. I know that carbonara with the onsen tamago you’re talking about. I had it at Jonathan’s near Kappabashi, and when I got back home I started working on Japanese pasta. You’re very generous to share how to make onsen tamago because whenever people ask how I do it (neither poached nor boiled) I don’t give them the answer. :)

  • http://www.tasteslikehome.org/ Cynthia

    I love your idea of putting a slow-cooked egg on top. Will definitely try it this way.

  • http://www.tasteslikehome.org Cynthia

    I love your idea of putting a slow-cooked egg on top. Will definitely try it this way.

  • http://www.pigpigscorner.com/ pigpigscorner

    The egg on top makes it even better! I really have to get that pasta machine!

  • http://www.pigpigscorner.com pigpigscorner

    The egg on top makes it even better! I really have to get that pasta machine!

  • http://manggy.blogspot.com/ Manggy

    Oh, that looks so good, and I’m not even really an egg lover. Even though it doesn’t take as quickly as 4 minutes, I quite like the texture that I get from the thin fettuccine “nests” that you get from the grocery (prob. imported from Italy), and it doesn’t take that much longer. I wish I did have a pasta machine, though :)

  • http://manggy.blogspot.com Manggy

    Oh, that looks so good, and I’m not even really an egg lover. Even though it doesn’t take as quickly as 4 minutes, I quite like the texture that I get from the thin fettuccine “nests” that you get from the grocery (prob. imported from Italy), and it doesn’t take that much longer. I wish I did have a pasta machine, though :)

  • http://bridezillabakes.wordpress.com/ Bethany

    I have a recently found love of eggs with soft yolks especially in noodle dishes and am excited to try the slow cooking method! This looks like a wonderful, simple version of a yummy dish. Will definitely try!

  • http://bridezillabakes.wordpress.com/ Bethany

    I have a recently found love of eggs with soft yolks especially in noodle dishes and am excited to try the slow cooking method! This looks like a wonderful, simple version of a yummy dish. Will definitely try!

  • http://cookappeal.blogspot.com/ Chef E

    Marc, this is on my list to make, but soon after seeing yours!

    Hey do you have a good cucumber recipe? My friends and I ate at a fusion Asian place called ‘Mint’, and they fell in love with the cucumber side we had with the chicken satays. Sweet, but not very sour…could you email me? Thanks!

  • http://cookappeal.blogspot.com/ Chef E

    Marc, this is on my list to make, but soon after seeing yours!

    Hey do you have a good cucumber recipe? My friends and I ate at a fusion Asian place called ‘Mint’, and they fell in love with the cucumber side we had with the chicken satays. Sweet, but not very sour…could you email me? Thanks!

  • http://stickygooeycreamychewy.blogspot.com/ Susan at Sticky,Gooey,Creamy,C

    You just reminded me that I have a big hunk of guanciale in my freezer! Your carbonara looks wonderful! I love the soft egg on top. Will have to try it next time.

  • http://stickygooeycreamychewy.blogspot.com Susan at Sticky,Gooey,Creamy,Chewy

    You just reminded me that I have a big hunk of guanciale in my freezer! Your carbonara looks wonderful! I love the soft egg on top. Will have to try it next time.

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  • http://glutenfreegourmand.blogspot.com/2009/04/traditional-italian-pasta-carbonara.html.com Gina – The Gluten-Free Gourman

    Marc, I had no idea they served this in Japan, let alone with an egg on top – that looks delicious. Thanks for the slow-cooked egg recipe. I’ve never tried it but it sounds like something I’d be into.

    My Italian friend taught me to make pasta carbonara all in the pan, so instead of combining the egg, cheese, and pasta in the bowl you combine it in the already-warm pan that the onions are in (with the flame off). That allows you to cook and thicken the egg slightly, or even a lot if you prefer. In your method, do you find that the egg comes out mostly raw, or does the hot pasta cook it at all?

    • http://norecipes.com/ Marc @ NoRecipes

      Good question, I used to do it all in one pan (I’m all about having less dishes to wash), but found that the egg got a little over cooked and tended to curdle. Dumping the hot pasta, oil and onions into the mix cooks the egg just enough to get thick and coat the noodles.

      Just make sure the noodles are nice and hot when you add them.

      • http://glutenfreegourmand.blogspot.com/2009/04/traditional-italian-pasta-carbonara.html Gina – The Gluten-Free Gourman

        I only rarely have the egg curdle in the pan. The trick is to first turn the flame off, then put in the hot pasta all at once. Crack the egg into the center of the pasta. Use your utensil (chopsticks work surprisingly well) to fold everything together gently but thoroughly. I add the cheese a little later, after a few stirs. Keep it moving and the egg should thicken slowly. Of course, this technique’s success depends on the pan – I don’t ever use a thick-bottomed pan for this one!

  • http://glutenfreegourmand.blogspot.com/2009/04/traditional-italian-pasta-carbonara.html.com Gina – The Gluten-Free Gourmand

    Marc, I had no idea they served this in Japan, let alone with an egg on top – that looks delicious. Thanks for the slow-cooked egg recipe. I’ve never tried it but it sounds like something I’d be into.

    My Italian friend taught me to make pasta carbonara all in the pan, so instead of combining the egg, cheese, and pasta in the bowl you combine it in the already-warm pan that the onions are in (with the flame off). That allows you to cook and thicken the egg slightly, or even a lot if you prefer. In your method, do you find that the egg comes out mostly raw, or does the hot pasta cook it at all?

    • http://norecipes.com Marc @ NoRecipes

      Good question, I used to do it all in one pan (I’m all about having less dishes to wash), but found that the egg got a little over cooked and tended to curdle. Dumping the hot pasta, oil and onions into the mix cooks the egg just enough to get thick and coat the noodles.

      Just make sure the noodles are nice and hot when you add them.

      • http://glutenfreegourmand.blogspot.com/2009/04/traditional-italian-pasta-carbonara.html Gina – The Gluten-Free Gourmand

        I only rarely have the egg curdle in the pan. The trick is to first turn the flame off, then put in the hot pasta all at once. Crack the egg into the center of the pasta. Use your utensil (chopsticks work surprisingly well) to fold everything together gently but thoroughly. I add the cheese a little later, after a few stirs. Keep it moving and the egg should thicken slowly. Of course, this technique’s success depends on the pan – I don’t ever use a thick-bottomed pan for this one!

  • http://onlinepastrychef.wordpress.com/ Jenni

    Nice one, Marc–simple, elegant and easy for summer. I’m with you–I want my pasta to be long. I don’t mean to, but I shudder when I see folks break dried pasta into the pot.

  • http://onlinepastrychef.wordpress.com/ Jenni

    Nice one, Marc–simple, elegant and easy for summer. I’m with you–I want my pasta to be long. I don’t mean to, but I shudder when I see folks break dried pasta into the pot.

  • http://www.tomatokumato.com/ emiglia

    Loving the slow-cooked egg idea… like a deconstructed carbonara. I’ve seen it on caesar salad too… makes an interesting interactive sauce. Very cool.

  • http://www.tomatokumato.com emiglia

    Loving the slow-cooked egg idea… like a deconstructed carbonara. I’ve seen it on caesar salad too… makes an interesting interactive sauce. Very cool.

  • http://allthingsnice.typepad.com/ Syrie

    Gorgeous Marc. I love the addition of the egg too. Can’t wait to get my pasta machine back! It’s enroute from Vancouver. I hope.

  • http://allthingsnice.typepad.com Syrie

    Gorgeous Marc. I love the addition of the egg too. Can’t wait to get my pasta machine back! It’s enroute from Vancouver. I hope.

  • http://blog.american-otaku.com/ alecho

    Yeah, Carbonara is really popular in Japan. I lived there for 11years, but none of them looked good as yours! seriously! I’m hungry now… gonna try this. Unfortunately, the girl I like can’t eat cheese. Too bad for her! ;)

  • http://blog.american-otaku.com alecho

    Yeah, Carbonara is really popular in Japan. I lived there for 11years, but none of them looked good as yours! seriously! I’m hungry now… gonna try this. Unfortunately, the girl I like can’t eat cheese. Too bad for her! ;)

  • http://thesplitpea.blogspot.com/ Eralda

    I love carbonara as well, but I can never get it right. I think I like the slow cooked egg version better. This looks divine.

  • http://thesplitpea.blogspot.com Eralda

    I love carbonara as well, but I can never get it right. I think I like the slow cooked egg version better. This looks divine.

  • http://www.justcookit.co.uk/ Just Cook It

    What an excellent twist on a classic.

  • http://www.justcookit.co.uk Just Cook It

    What an excellent twist on a classic.

  • http://lacasseroelcarree.blogspot.com/ Vibi

    Never tried it… but must eventually, for it is one of my favorite!

    Very well done, looks perfect!

  • http://lacasseroelcarree.blogspot.com Vibi

    Never tried it… but must eventually, for it is one of my favorite!

    Very well done, looks perfect!

  • Joanna

    What an interesting idea… I’ve never had a slow-cooked egg, but I’ve also never met a carbonara I didn’t like – I’m so intrigued by this version!

    Also, if you ever make it up to Arthur Ave. in the Bronx, I highly recommend stopping into Biancardi’s (one of the butcher shops) for some of their house-made guanciale. It’s covered in spices – when you open the package, the rosemary smell is a little overwhelming, but it mellows out as you cook it – and it’s one of the most delicious things I’ve ever tasted. Pretty cheap, too. I first tried it a few months ago and now I always make sure I have some in the fridge!

  • Joanna

    What an interesting idea… I’ve never had a slow-cooked egg, but I’ve also never met a carbonara I didn’t like – I’m so intrigued by this version!

    Also, if you ever make it up to Arthur Ave. in the Bronx, I highly recommend stopping into Biancardi’s (one of the butcher shops) for some of their house-made guanciale. It’s covered in spices – when you open the package, the rosemary smell is a little overwhelming, but it mellows out as you cook it – and it’s one of the most delicious things I’ve ever tasted. Pretty cheap, too. I first tried it a few months ago and now I always make sure I have some in the fridge!

  • http://cook-italian.com/ Andrew Selvaggio

    It’s intresting to see the diffrent versions of Carbonara from Alfredo with bacon and red pepepr flakes to the classic made in the style of the Coal Miners wives earning the name Carbonara, with the recipe sans soft cooked egg. I always loved the taste and texture of a soft broken egg yolk in a Frizze salad I can only imagine what It brings to this classic pasta! A must try! Thank you for sharing!

    Andrew

  • http://cook-italian.com Andrew Selvaggio

    It’s intresting to see the diffrent versions of Carbonara from Alfredo with bacon and red pepepr flakes to the classic made in the style of the Coal Miners wives earning the name Carbonara, with the recipe sans soft cooked egg. I always loved the taste and texture of a soft broken egg yolk in a Frizze salad I can only imagine what It brings to this classic pasta! A must try! Thank you for sharing!

    Andrew

  • http://www.practicallydone.com/ helen

    Carbonara’s my absolute favourite. I do like the idea of adding a slow cooked egg on top. Must try it next time!

  • http://www.practicallydone.com helen

    Carbonara’s my absolute favourite. I do like the idea of adding a slow cooked egg on top. Must try it next time!

  • http://www.weareneverfull.com/ we are never full

    thank you for:

    1. not using cream
    2. using pecorino
    3. putting guanciale on the recipe list
    4. putting your own twist w/ the slow-cooked egg!

    you’ve made the romans happy.

  • http://www.weareneverfull.com we are never full

    thank you for:

    1. not using cream
    2. using pecorino
    3. putting guanciale on the recipe list
    4. putting your own twist w/ the slow-cooked egg!

    you’ve made the romans happy.

  • http://www.deglazeme.blogspot.com/ Christina@DeglazeMe

    Marc, carbonara has ALWAYS been my absolute fave pasta dish. I rarely eat or make it at home, because it isn’t exactly healthy, but it’s just so damn tasty! I really adore your creative approach with the egg noodles and slow-cooked egg. So tasty!!

  • http://www.deglazeme.blogspot.com Christina@DeglazeMe

    Marc, carbonara has ALWAYS been my absolute fave pasta dish. I rarely eat or make it at home, because it isn’t exactly healthy, but it’s just so damn tasty! I really adore your creative approach with the egg noodles and slow-cooked egg. So tasty!!

  • http://www.bouchonfor2.com/ Mel

    Too lazy to buy pasta so you make it at home. Somehow, the logic… just buggin, love. Keep up the awesome work.

  • http://www.bouchonfor2.com/ Mel

    Too lazy to buy pasta so you make it at home. Somehow, the logic… just buggin, love. Keep up the awesome work.

  • http://feasting-art.blogspot.com/ Megan{Feasting on Art}

    The poached egg on top is a fantastic idea. I am going to try this soon!! Delish!

  • http://feasting-art.blogspot.com Megan{Feasting on Art}

    The poached egg on top is a fantastic idea. I am going to try this soon!! Delish!

  • Dznyknitter

    This “no recipe” made me think of a similar dish I make…

    Use cook-on-stovetop grits (make sure to use enough salt, also better if you use butter & pepper (black or white) — this is the starch base

    Use pan-fried (not deep fried) greens for the bitterness (thawed & drained collard greens will work if you don’t have access to a fresh dark bitter green leafy vegetable) — this goes on top of the grits

    Slow cooked egg(s) or eggs fried until whites aren’t runny but yellow is runny — this goes on tippy top

    Yum Yum Yum

  • Dznyknitter

    This “no recipe” made me think of a similar dish I make…

    Use cook-on-stovetop grits (make sure to use enough salt, also better if you use butter & pepper (black or white) — this is the starch base

    Use pan-fried (not deep fried) greens for the bitterness (thawed & drained collard greens will work if you don’t have access to a fresh dark bitter green leafy vegetable) — this goes on top of the grits

    Slow cooked egg(s) or eggs fried until whites aren’t runny but yellow is runny — this goes on tippy top

    Yum Yum Yum

  • http://tastewiththeeyes.blogspot.com/ Lori Lynn

    I like your version Marc! The slow cooked egg put it over the top!
    I’m still on the lookout for guanciale, i even learned how to pronounce it correctly, but, alas local stores don’t have it, gotta drive a little farther…
    LL

  • http://tastewiththeeyes.blogspot.com/ Lori Lynn

    I like your version Marc! The slow cooked egg put it over the top!
    I’m still on the lookout for guanciale, i even learned how to pronounce it correctly, but, alas local stores don’t have it, gotta drive a little farther…
    LL

  • http://simplemornings.blogspot.com/ amy

    i have seen this served at a japanese pasta shop here and i have eaten it too. it does taste fabulous! must definitely make this on my own:)

  • http://simplemornings.blogspot.com amy

    i have seen this served at a japanese pasta shop here and i have eaten it too. it does taste fabulous! must definitely make this on my own:)

  • http://voodoolily.blogspot.com/ Heather
  • http://voodoolily.blogspot.com Heather
  • http://kitchensidecar.blogspot.com/ katiek @kitchensidecar

    have you tired mario batali’s version of carbonara?

    i did, with squid ink in pasta. it made for drama.

    egg yolk couched within black pasta. bring it.

  • http://kitchensidecar.blogspot.com katiek @kitchensidecar

    have you tired mario batali’s version of carbonara?

    i did, with squid ink in pasta. it made for drama.

    egg yolk couched within black pasta. bring it.

  • http://www.thewickednoodle.com/ the wicked noodle

    Carbonara is one of my favorite dishes! I’ve never seen it prepared this way – can’t wait to try it!

  • http://www.thewickednoodle.com the wicked noodle

    Carbonara is one of my favorite dishes! I’ve never seen it prepared this way – can’t wait to try it!

  • http://onlinepastrychef.wordpress.com/ Jenni

    Hey Marc–if you have access to a circulator, you can toss the eggs into it without worrying about checking the temp all the time. They are big old fat expensive, but might be worth it if you like to do a lot of cooking that requires precise temperature control.

  • http://onlinepastrychef.wordpress.com/ Jenni

    Hey Marc–if you have access to a circulator, you can toss the eggs into it without worrying about checking the temp all the time. They are big old fat expensive, but might be worth it if you like to do a lot of cooking that requires precise temperature control.

  • http://www.slim-shoppin.com/ Jenn@slim-shoppin

    Wow, Marc, I’ve never seen such a cooler looking plate of pasta!

    I have only attempted to make pasta once and that was like 15 years ago AND it took me forever! Ha!

    I should really try it again though. I love how it cooks so quickly :0)

  • http://www.slim-shoppin.com Jenn@slim-shoppin

    Wow, Marc, I’ve never seen such a cooler looking plate of pasta!

    I have only attempted to make pasta once and that was like 15 years ago AND it took me forever! Ha!

    I should really try it again though. I love how it cooks so quickly :0)

  • http://fiddle-heads.logspot.com/ Tricia

    I made this and it was great. However, it made me feel really stuffed — who knew that bacon, cheese, eggs and pasta could do that . . . ;)

  • http://fiddle-heads.logspot.com Tricia

    I made this and it was great. However, it made me feel really stuffed — who knew that bacon, cheese, eggs and pasta could do that . . . ;)

  • http://janespice.com/ Ursula

    This is on the menu for a Sunday lunch. Can’t wait to make it.

  • http://janespice.com Ursula

    This is on the menu for a Sunday lunch. Can’t wait to make it.

  • http://www.fussfreerecipes.com/ nora@ffr

    wow!! vat a great idea.. m sure gonna try this soon.. lovely blog you have here :)
    cheers!!

  • http://www.fussfreerecipes.com nora@ffr

    wow!! vat a great idea.. m sure gonna try this soon.. lovely blog you have here :)
    cheers!!

  • http://www.foodgal.com/ Carolyn Jung

    You had me at the slow-cooked egg. ;)

  • http://www.foodgal.com Carolyn Jung

    You had me at the slow-cooked egg. ;)

  • http://www.sugarbar.org/ diva

    i really love your onsen tamago. i need to make it some time soon because it just looks so good, probably better than poached egg for me!! :)

  • http://www.sugarbar.org diva

    i really love your onsen tamago. i need to make it some time soon because it just looks so good, probably better than poached egg for me!! :)

  • http://www.foodista.com/ Alisa

    Wow!A slowcooked egg on my carbonara is something I can’t wait to try! I’ve always loved your recipes even if you call your website no recipes…just kidding! Seriously, I love it!

  • http://www.foodista.com Alisa

    Wow!A slowcooked egg on my carbonara is something I can’t wait to try! I’ve always loved your recipes even if you call your website no recipes…just kidding! Seriously, I love it!

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  • Jazzlynescrupolo

    i love pasta italian style

  • http://www.tastesofhome.blogspot.com Tastes of Home (Jen)

    Wow this sounds and looks so yummy, have to go get the stuff for this asap. Now, I know where to refer to whenever I want to cook pasta!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sophia-Mae-Enrique/100001706602604 Sophia Mae Enrique

    so yummy!

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  • Amvonz105

    How much pepper should I use?

  • Amvonz105

    and how many does this recipe serve? 

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      I don’t usually list the amount of pepper because different people have different tolerances to spice. Just taste as you go and stop adding pepper when you think there’s enough. As for servings, this makes 2 servings. 

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  • Clavell_lazona27

    i love italian pasta :) it taste great ..

  • Love

    I want to cook carbonara,its so yummy….:)

  • Susa well

    You lost me with the nearly raw egg. 

  • rally

    hi i would like to this pasta recipes and i hope you have any recipes

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  • Jacq

    Is there any alternative other than pecorino? I’m afraid I couldn’t find it here

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano would work.

  • cheftin

    id like to ask how to plate spaghetti carbonara? should i use a big fork or a food tong? id like to present it like a tower? tnx

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      You can use tongs to twirl it and get a spiraling tower.

  • cheftin

    nice..thanks marc…so excited to do it in our next cooking class :)

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