Jan 12, 2023

Takanazuke and Bacon Spaghetti 高菜培根義大利麵

Takanazuke is like the Japanese version of Chinese pickled mustard greens. You can often find it in sealed packets in the market, or you can even buy takanazuke from a big bucket, they'll scoop out the amount needed, weigh it, and charge instead. 

While in Taiwan, we often add pickled mustard greens to beef noodles. I think in Japan, the most common way to enjoy takanazuke is by serving it as a side dish with steamed rice, or even cooked together with rice. Think of it as a flavorful pickled vegetable, and this time I'm going to utilize it in a pasta recipe.

Takanazuke and bacon spaghetti 高菜培根義大利麵 - 

Takanazuke and bacon spaghetti

Ingredients (about 3 to 4 portions)?

  • 400 grams spaghetti
  • 200 grams takanazuke
  • 200 grams thick-cut smoked bacon
  • 1 leek
  • 4 garlic clove
  • 2 tablespoons double condensed Japanese tsuyu
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Some salt
  • 1 cup pasta cooking water
  • 1 lemon


Slice the bacon to strips.

Bacon strips

Peel and slice the garlic cloves. Destem and slice the leek diagonally. Slice the lemon to wedges.

Prepare a big pot of water and add some salt. Bring to a boil and cook the pasta till almost al dente. Towards the end, scoop out some pasta water and set aside, at least 1 cup just to be safe. 

Once the pasta is ready, drain and wait for the sauce. Or perhaps if you time it well, the sauce is ready when the pasta is ready at about the same time. That way you can simply scoop the pasta over along with some pasta cooking water.

Use a big pan, drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil and switch to medium heat. Transfer bacon and garlic slices over. Cook till the bacon fat renders a bit and the garlics turn slightly browned.

Searing bacon strips and garlic slices

Turn to medium high heat and add in the leeks, stir-fry till softened.

Cooking leeks

Add the takanazuke and give it a quick stir. Pour in 2 tablespoons of Japanese tsuyu and mix till blended.

Cooking Takanazuke

Transfer cooked pasta over and mix till blended again. If the mixture looks too dry, it's time to introduce the pasta cooking water. I ended up adding 1 full cup for here. Let all the ingredients cook together just a little longer. 

Taste and adjust with salt or Japanese tsuyu if needed. 

Takanazuke and bacon spaghetti

Note that I didn't use any salt directly to flavor the pasta sauce. Instead, salt was only used in pasta water. The reason is that both bacon and takanazuke can be quite salty already, so it's always better to taste and adjust in the end.

Takanazuke and bacon spaghetti

Plate and serve with lemon wedge on the side.

The recipe is simple but don't be fooled by its rather plain appearance. You get the savory boost from the pickled mustard greens, also a slight smokiness from the bacon. Perhaps a squeeze of lemon wedge for a pop of refreshing acidity too. 

Other wafu pasta recipes:

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