The Uonotana shopping district in Akashi is known for its “noon nets”, retail shops’ noontime auctions where you can buy seafood caught that day. Serving authentic Italian food using fresh seafood, Pasta Bar set up a restaurant within the market.
The person showing his kitchen skills is Chef Yamagami who trained in Amalfi, southern Italy. This time the chef introduced Setouchi Finder to a perfect winter dish. “Akashi Octopus and Daikon Tomato Sauce Spaghetti” is made by simmering Akashi octopus with the season’s daikon (Japanese radish). It is a dish that will warm you up whether you are the one preparing or eating it.
There is a contrast with just the right amount of chewiness left in the Akashi octopus, and the softness of the daikon that almost crumbles and melts in the mouth. By making this tomato-sauce based spaghetti packed with the good flavor of octopus there is no doubt it’ll be the light of the party.
The central ingredient of this recipe is octopus. Common octopus is in season in summer, but Akashi octopus can be purchased nearly all year round. The muscled body, trained in the fast tidal streams, and the succulent flavor resulting from eating young crabs in abundance, are the special characteristics of this octopus.
Well then, without further ado, let’s take a look at the ingredients, the preparation, and the cooking method.
Ingredients (2 portions):
Spaghetti (Thickness 1.6mm) 160g
Akashi Octopus 120g (You may also use pre-boiled octopus)
Garlic (finely chopped) 5g
Onions (finely chopped) 60g
Olive Oil 30cc
Daikon (radish) 120g
Black olives x 6
Spicy Chili Peppers 1-2
Can of Boiled Tomatoes 150g
Water 300cc (if you’re using a pressure cooker, 100 cc)
Salt in moderation
Kelp Tea in moderation
Parsley (finely chopped) in moderation
If you’re using uncooked octopus, rub it with salt to remove dirt and slime and then rinse with water. After washing, cut it into 2 – 3cm pieces. If you are using boiled octopus (meant for sashimi), you can just cut the octopus into 2 – 3cm pieces.
Cut the daikon into 1.5 – 2 cm cubes.
Crush the canned tomatoes by hand.
1. Warm the olive oil in a pot and add the garlic, onions. Simmer gently until the mixture becomes soft.
2. Add the octopus, daikon, black olives, spicy chili peppers and water. Simmer on low heat until the daikon has softened to your preference. The approximate time needed for simmering is around 30 minutes (10 minutes if you are using a pressure cooker).
3. Add the boiled tomatoes to the ingredients and let the mixture simmer until the amount of liquid has decreased a bit. Transfer the finished sauce to a fry pan.
4. Boil the spaghetti. Reducing the boiling time indicated on the bag by 1.5 minutes will lead to al dente pasta.
5. After the spaghetti has boiled, mix it quickly with the other ingredients and add salt and kelp tea to taste.
6. Arrange the finished pasta in a dish and sprinkle with chopped parsley.
We asked the chef for some hints to recreate that professional flavor.
Hint no. 1: Be sure to be prudent when rubbing the salt and rinsing the octopus with water.
If you use a smaller-sized raw octopus, be sure to rub it briskly with salt to get rid of the sliminess and carefully rinse off all the dirt with water. When you rub the octopus with salt, the stretched out tentacles will curl in. There may be dirt within the suction pads so remember to wash them carefully when rinsing. If it’s hard to get your hands on octopus during winter, you can buy raw octopus during summer, remove the ink and preserve it in the freezer. The salt rub and removing the dirt when washing is easier with octopus that has been frozen once, so we recommend it!
Hint no. 2: Simmer until the octopus and daikon can be easily pierced with a bamboo skewer.
You don’t have to worry about the amount of liquid when you start simmering the octopus, daikon, black olives, and spicy chili peppers. The ingredients will start boiling gently on the low heat, and with the color coming off naturally from the octopus, the whole mixture will start to turn pink. At this stage, the daikon will absorb the flavor of the octopus. The photograph above was taken when the ingredients had been simmering for around 20 minutes. Liquid will come out of the daikon, so at this stage, keep simmering a little bit over 10 minutes until the liquid has lessened. Before adding the boiled tomatoes, use a (bamboo) skewer to check the softness of the octopus and daikon. The aim is to leave some chewiness to the octopus, and to soften the daikon so that it can be easily pierced with the bamboo skewer.
Hint No. 3: Boil the spaghetti after making the sauce!
The secret to making delicious pasta is mixing the al dente spaghetti quickly with the sauce. When cooking pasta, have you ever had a situation where you have already boiled the spaghetti but the sauce is not yet ready? If you boil the spaghetti after finishing the sauce, this will lessen the chance any blunders, and you can make delicious pasta at home.
The first floor at Uonotana Pasta Bar, from where we received this recipe, becomes a freestanding bar during the evening. On the first floor you can enjoy delicious dishes and drinks at prices that are a little more affordable compared to the second floor seats. While talking with the genial chef and his wife, you’ll forget that you’re even standing up and it feels like you just can’t stop eating. We recommend this cozy space with its nice atmosphere.
Name of the Restaurant: Uonotana Pasta Bar
Address: 1 Chome -1-22, Honmachi, Akashi City, Hyogo Prefecture
Open: 11:00〜15:00, 17:00〜23:00
Closed: Every Tuesday
Homepage: http://www.uonotana.or.jp/shop-120.htm (Japanese)
> A guided tour, including teatime, where you can see the former “Koshien Hotel” – “Frank Lloyd Wright type” architecture by Arata Endo. / Koshien Hall at Mukogawa Women’s University (Nishinomiya-shi, Hyogo)
> Experience the ancient way of salt making on Kamikamagari-jima Island on the Tobishima Kaido in Aki-nada! / Kamagari Ancient Salt Making Remains Restoration Pavilion & “Amabito-no-Moshio” (Kure-shi, Hiroshima)
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