The other day, we went to a Butoh performance with a few of our friends in Tokyo. Butoh is a style of dance that feels like watching a Picasso painting that has come to life. Very minimalist style with much room for interpretation, Butoh is a beautifully and refreshingly different type of performance. One that I never thought I would truly appreciate. I’m sure I would not like all Butoh performances, as some are grotesque and, as my husband described it, “Marilyn Manson-esque”. This does not exactly describe some of my favorite styles. However, the particular show we saw was calming in a sense. There was no speaking, little as far as a set on stage, and the movements were slow, steady, and graceful. Here are some clips from the same performance we saw: Sankai Juku. The majority of the music was lovely, with the occasional low buzzing noise. Didn’t care for that.
Attending this performance made me remember how important it is to experience something new every once in a while. We get so caught up in the everyday grind that the idea of seeing a show or exploring a new area of the city seems to float away. I guess that just goes to show that no matter where you live, you are susceptible to becoming “beige”. Everything is the same. A little splash of color on occasion is all we need to spruce things up!
This Uni Pasta is a great way to change the typical creamy pasta recipe. Uni (sea urchin) is a creamy, nutty flavored delicacy, especially in Japan. Really good sea urchin tastes of salt water from the ocean with a sweet hint of hazelnut. Seems strange, I know, but trust me. It’s like nothing else I’ve ever tasted. A sure way to impress your Japanese friends is to eat fresh uni. We often get asked two questions: Do you eat natto? NO! Do you eat uni? YES!
Don’t fret if you can’t access good, fresh uni. You can add something else for a little splash of color! Be creative. Find something that will enhance and liven up the flavor of the pasta that you perhaps would not have used on any regular day. Even adding a little squash or pumpkin puree is a great way to lighten up and add flavor to rich, creamy pasta dishes. Sprinkle a few toasted hazelnuts and few parsley leaves on top and you’re all set!
If you do decide to use uni, make sure to add it just at the end before serving. This will preserve the flavor as much as possible. If you can’t taste it, what’s the point, right?
Creamy Uni Pasta with Fennel Fronds
Makes 4 servings
1 pound spaghetti or angel hair pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup cream
1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
zest of 1/2 a lemon
salt and black pepper
About 3 oz. fresh sea urchin
1/3 cup loosely packed fennel fronds or flat leaf parsley
Begin by cooking the pasta in boiling, salted water according to package directions.
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until the garlic is fragrant and beginning to soften (about 2-3 minutes) being careful not to burn the garlic. Add the red pepper flakes and cook another 30 seconds. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the cream, parmesan cheese and lemon zest. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook gently until heated through. Add the cooked pasta to the cream, reserving some of the pasta water. Toss the pasta to coat with the cream. Remove the pasta from the heat and stir in the sea urchin and fennel fronds, reserving some of the fennel for garnish.
Serve immediately topped with a piece of uni, fennel fronds and extra parmesan if desired.