Last Updated on October 19, 2020
This recipe is my take on tomato sauce pasta but Asian style! My Spaghetti with Ginger Tomato Sauce is not your old-time marinara sauce. It has a kick from fresh ginger that goes well with the natural umami taste from tomato, shiitake mushrooms, and dulse flakes. It is vegan, can be easily modified to be oil-free and gluten-free!
Tomato + Ginger
For some people, ginger could be a reminder of the taste of holiday meals. For me, adding ginger to any food makes it taste Asian. Very early days of my blogging, I made this similar Asian inspired pasta dish, spaghetti with sesame tomato sauce. It was totally an experimental dish and it was quite tasty!
I am not a Chinese food connoisseur but I believe the combination of tomato + ginger is a common flavor combination in Chinese cuisine. My personal memory of this particular flavor combination goes back to the days when I used to live in Japan.
There was a tiny “Italian” restaurant in where I lived that has tomato ginger spaghetti on their menu. When I first tasted it, it was sensational! Back then, I had no knowledge of cooking but I had always had curiosity over food. Theirs was more broth-y, but had lots of fresh ginger in the sauce (broth.) It was somewhat feeling like eating ramen in a form of spaghetti. Interestingly, it was kind of Japanese but still maintained to be an Italian dish. lol. The taste was complex which was tangy, spicy, a bit sweet. It completely warmed my soul.
That was the inspiration for making this dish. Mine is with a bit thicker tomato sauce (that is how Peter likes it.) Typically, once I eat something, the memory of it never leaves! I do not have a complete memory of what was in that pasta dish I had at the restaurant. But I was able to get the sensation again with my own version!
Here is what you need to make this delicious spaghetti.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Yellow Onion
- Shiitake Mushrooms
- Sake (optional)
- Dulse Flakes (I used one from Mountain Rose Herbs)
- Passata or Strained Tomato Purée
- Black Pepper
- Spaghetti (I used brown rice spaghetti from Jovial Foods)
You can make this oil-free by skipping extra virgin olive oil. For gluten-free option, use your choice of gluten free pasta and also check the label of sake to see it is GF. If you are unsure, simply skip it!
The Tips / Recipe Notes
Here is the break down in more details.
This is obviously one of the main ingredients for this dish. Use of fresh ginger is a must! I used about 2 tbsp total of minced ginger (for 2 servings.) Now the key is to cook some in the sauce but saved some for fresh (raw) toppings! The cooked ginger also gives the same flavor and the heat but the fresh one is what gives the real aroma with the intense heat!
I uesd 1 1/2 tbsp for cooking and 1/2 tbsp for topping. I really love the use of fresh ginger as a topping!
Shiitake & Dulse
These two ingredients are what I call “umami generator.” Shiitake gives a hint of mushroom taste in the background, while the dulse flakes adds a hint of ocean flavor (depending on how much you use it.) If you have checked out our other Asian pasta dishes, I use dulse flakes quite often. It gives the natural vegan dashi taste without going through the process of making kombu dashi from scratch.
I love any ocean flavor plant-based food such as seaweed. I can not even imagine not having any seaweed products in my pantry. If you have not incorporated dulse flakes to your food, you may be missing something really tasty!
This is another main ingredients for this dish. When it comes to tomato sauce dish, my go-to ingredients are either fresh tomatoes or passata. Depending on the consistency and intensity of tomato taste that I look for, and also if fresh tomatoes are in season or not, I choose one or the other.
What I like about passata is simple and clean using just tomatoes with no any other added ingredients. It is strained which means it has the thick consistency. But I can actually control the consistency by adding other liquid such water, veggie stock, kombu dashi etc.. Another added bonus is I can keep the glass bottle and the cap to reuse it!
I know not everyone has sake in your kitchen. Actually, I always keep a bottle only to use in cooking, not for drinking. For me, it is an essential ingredient for Japanese cooking. Sake can add a hint of sweetness and depth to the overall flavor of the dish. When I make a Japanese dish, I use sake often instead of using white wine or red wine.
There is no need to buy a bottle just for making this dish so if you do not have one already, simply skip it. Now, if you want to have a touch of sweetness to the tomato-based sauce, just add a little bit of sugar or your choice of sweetener.
I used brown rice spaghetti for this dish. Of course, it can work with any spaghetti or other pastas!
You may like other Japanese inspired pasta dishes!
Spaghetti with Ginger Tomato Sauce
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil plus more for serving
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 3- inch ginger knob minced (about 2 tbsp --- separate into 1 1/2 tbsp + 1/2 tbsp)
- 1 cup thinly sliced yellow onion
- 4 shiitake mushrooms trim off the end and thinly sliced
- 2 cups water
- 2 tbsp sake (optional)
- 1 tbsp dulse flakes
- 1 1/2 cup passata or strained tomato purée
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 pound spaghetti
- 1 scallion thinly sliced (garnish)
- In a large pot, start cooking spaghetti in salted water for 9-11 minutes (or follow the instruction on the package.)
- Meanwhile, start making sauce. Heat up a large frying pan at medium high heat. Pour extra virgin olive oil and add garlic and 1 1/2 tbsp ginger. Cook for a minute or so until fragrant.
- Next, add yellow onion and shiitake mushrooms. Cook for 2 minutes until onion is translucent. Add water, sake (optional), and dulse flakes. Bring it to gentle boil then reduce the heat to medium.
- Add passata and season with salt and black pepper. Simmer until spaghetti is done.
- Drain the spaghetti and transfer to the sauce. Give a quick toss.
- Serve with the rest of the ginger (1/2 tbsp) and scallion on top. Drizzle some extra virgin olive oil for the finishing touch (optional.)
- Using sake is optional. I used it to add a hint of sweetness and depth to the flavor. If you like to add some sweetness to the tomato sauce, you can replace with approx. 1/2 tsp sugar or your choice of sweetener. Adjust the amount to your taste.