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Bored with your usual tomato sauce pasta? Why not try out these 11 Japanese-esque seasonings to make your everyday dish into a Japanese-style one? 

1. Butter and Soy Sauce

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Butter and soy sauce is the golden combination. It makes the dish creamier and richer in taste. It can be used as a base for a pasta sauce. For pasta sauce, mix the butter and the soy sauce, add any ingredient you want (a recommendation would be mushrooms), and add pasta.

2. Powdered Dashi

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In Japanese cuisine, dashi (出汁) is soup made from kombu (昆布 – seaweed), dried bonito shavings (katsuobushi 鰹節), meat or vegetables. Dashi also contains umami, which is one of the senses of taste. Powdered Dashi is a convenient way to make your dish into a Japanese one. For pasta sauce, mix it with whatever pasta sauce you’re making. Use it like you use herbs like basil. Avoid tomato sauce. Then add your pasta.

3. Mentaiko


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Also called tarako (たらこ). They both mean eggs from cod. Most of them are spiced up and called karashimentaiko (辛子明太子). For a pasta sauce, mix mentaiko, butter, soy sauce and fresh cream in a heated frying pan, and add pasta to it.

4. Nattou

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Yes, this is the infamous fermented soybeans. It’s sticky and it smells strange. Not everybody is a big fan, but nattou is very good for your body. It’s rich in vitamin B, isoflavone, calcium, dietary fiber and polyamine. For pasta sauce, mix nattou, butter and soy sauce in a frying pan, and add pasta to it.

5. Salty Kombu

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Salty kombu (塩昆布) is kombu cut into small strips, and seasoned with salt, umami, sugar and soy sauce. With one of these, the dish would be complete. For pasta sauce, add it as the final touch, then add the pasta.

6. Nameko

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Nameko (なめこ) is a mushroom coated with slippery goo. It’s rich in mucin, niacin, chondroitin, ergosterin, beta glucan, and trehalose. It is said to prevent cancer, high blood pressure, arteriosclerosis, stomach ulcers and gastritis. For pasta sauce, mix it with something that would be a taste base, like the salty kombu mentioned above. Then add the pasta.

7. Aojiso (Green Beefsteak Plant)

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Green beefsteak plant, or aojiso (青じそ) in Japanese, is a great way to add spice to your pasta sauce. Green beefsteak plant would take away the fishy or meaty taste and any unwanted smells from your dish. A good combination would be chopped green aojiso with fried tuna and diced onions.

8. Mizuna (Potherb Mustard)

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Potherb mutard, or mizuna (水菜) in Japanese, doesn’t exactly have a distinct taste. However, it’s great to add some clear fresh green to your plate. A recommended combination would be mushroom and bacon. Don’t forget to add it right before serving, or else it will wilt with excessive heat.

9. Yuzu Koshou (Yuzu Pepper)

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Yuzu Koshou (ゆず胡椒) is a green paste seasoned with pepper and yuzu. Yuzu (ゆず) is citron. Yuzu koshou can be used to spice up your plate. A great combination would be with tuna or mushrooms. For a pasta sauce, fry whatever you’re going to use for your pasta sauce, add yuzu koshou for seasoning, then add your pasta.

10. Mentsuyu

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Mentsuyu (めんつゆ) is a seasoning made of dashi, soy sauce, mirin, and sugar. Mirin (みりん) is sweetened sake used for cooking. Mentsuyu can be used in many ways. Thin it with water, dip it with noodles (udon, soba, soumen), or use it to season your dish, and in this case, your pasta sauce!

11. Goma Dare

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Goma Dare (ごまだれ) is a seasoning made of sesame, sugar and umami. It can be used for salads, stir fries, and pasta! A recommended usage would be pork and cabbage. For pasta sauce, fry the pork and cabbage, add goma dare for seasoning, and add your pasta.

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