I saw that some of my friends had visited Curry House in Monterey Park and while I was browsing their menu, the kinoko and kaiware (mushrooms and radish sprouts) spaghetti caught my eye. It was one of the few vegetarian dishes on the menu and then I remembered that my friend Yuko made it for us when we had dinner at her house a few years ago.
The dish is flavorful and satisfying, but also quick and easy to make — the perfect combination. I sauteed sliced Japanese chives, which are between a big green onion and a leek, in olive oil and lots of black pepper, then added in two sliced shiitakes (dried and reconstituted) and a sliced maitake. The trick is to make sure there’s enough oil in the pan that the mushrooms don’t dry up. Let that slowly cook on a low heat while the pasta is being cooked.
When the spaghetti is still undercooked (only a little of the white is showing when you bite into it), drain it into the pan with the mushrooms and chive/leeks. Mix together a few tablespoons of soy sauce and about half as much mirin, then pour that onto the noodles. Pour in a ladle full of pasta water, and then mix together on low heat. The pasta should absorb the water/soy-sauce/oil mixture and finish cooking. If it gets too dry, put in more pasta water.
The dish is done when the pasta is to your desired done-ness. Top with some grated radish, shredded toasted seaweed, and lots of radish sprouts.
I also made a simple radish soup to go along with the noodles. The soup was nothing but chopped up radish, the greens, water, and the mushroom soaking liquid from the dried shiitake. The radish and greens gives the soup a mustardy, almost spicy taste, which balances out the earthiness of the mushroom liquid.
Will declared this dish “I would order this at a restaurant” although he also added “but only a fusion restaurant” after, so I’m not sure if that’s high praise or not.