Homemade Food Marcopoloni, the Tiny Business

SUPER Quick and Easy Japanese Cod Roe Pasta Recipe

Japanese Cod Roe Pasta
Japanese Cod Roe Pasta with Nori Seaweed Topping

As a kid and recent immigrant to the US, I remember being teased by a classmate because “you people eat raw meat!” As a kindergartner, I must have been offended by his derogatory tone – but what I remember more clearly is my amazement at how misinformed he was. “Are all Americans this ignorant?,” I wondered.

Thinking about it now, that kid was probably referring to our consumption of raw fish … something that was probably considered barbaric by the average American way back then. But fast forward a few decades … and my bets are on the grown-up, hippy version of that kid being a “woke”, proud, self-proclaimed lover of sushi. I supposed we have come a long way in cultural acceptance, at least in the food – or foodie – sphere.

Cod roe pasta is not something new to the Italian menu, but the Japanese version of it has such a wonderful mix of flavors that it’s become a popular item on the Japanese menu.  Butter and soy sauce is truly a match made in heaven, and the addition of the cod roe elevates the umami to a whole new level. This pasta is incredibly simple to make – yes, you can prepare the sauce while the pasta is boiling – and requires just a handful of ingredients. If you can get your hands on some tarako (Japanese salted cod roe), the flavor-to-effort ratio is off the charts!


  • One pack of dry spaghetti (1 lb)
  • Two sacks(?) of tarako (Japanese salted pollock roe) – or mentaiko (spicy version)
  • 1/3 Cup milk (I used whole milk)
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • Cut nori (dried seaweed) – optional
  1. Cook the pasta in plenty of salted water – keep it al dente, and reserve some pasta water
  2. While the pasta is cooking, mix the tarako, milk and soy sauce in a small bowl
  3. When the pasta is ready, drain and toss with butter
  4. Mix the tarako sauce into the pasta, add pasta water (1/2 Cup or more, to desired consistency)
  5. Sprinkle with cut nori and enjoy!!

I know it’s only 10am, but I am already looking forward to my lunch …  leftovers!

True Artisanship

Fusilli alla Siciliana

Fusilli alla Siciliana

I do go to Sicily and have never seen this recipe there, but whether it is authentic or not (I would like to find out what you think), I truly love it and everyone that has had it has complimented me for it. It is the lengthiest recipe in my arsenal so far. I have to allow two hours for it, but it is definitely worth it. If it shouldn’t be called Fusilli alla Siciliana, what should its name be?


1 pack of Fusilli
1 About 25 pitted black olives – more ok
5 anchovies (fillets)
4 cloves of garlic
1 Red Pepper
1 Eggplant
1 Tablespoon Capers
1 kg Roma Tomatoes
1 Tablespoon Parsley
4 Tablespoons Olive Oil – more ok
5 Minced Peperoncini (small red hot peppers) – less ok
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste


  1. Peel the eggplant and cut it in small cubes (1/2 inch max). Sprinkle some coarse salt and apply a weight over it. This will rid any bitter taste. I don’t overdo this step.
  2. Char the red pepper’s peel by placing in over a flame. Otherwise bake in the oven for 30-45 minutes until the peel separates. Eliminate the peel. I do this at 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. Clean the anchovies (remove any bones).
  4. Wash the tomatoes and cut up. I always boil the tomatoes, peel them and cut up. My method requires that I purchase more than the suggested 1kg. It is also time consuming but worth it!
  5. In a large pan sauté the garlic in the olive oil. The recipe says to eliminate the garlic, but I leave it in.
  6. Add the eggplant cubes and let them cook a little while.
  7. Add the cut up tomatoes and cook for 15 minutes (medium heat).
  8. When the 15 minutes are up, add to the sauce the chopped red pepper, the capers, the anchovies, and the chopped olives. Cook for another 15 minutes.
  9. This is a good moment to boil the water for the fusilli.
  10. Before removing the sauce pan from the fire, add the minced parsley and minced pepperoncino.
  11. Mix the drained fusilli with the sauce and serve in deep pasta dishes. Eat while hot!
True Artisanship

Perfecting my Spaghetti alla Marinara

I got my recipe from the book Cucino Io, which is a great book filled with great recipes from around the world and which provides a lot of background and historical information related to each recipe.

I enjoy perfecting a dish for many reasons. I like to savor variations of the same recipe, try different adjustments, and find out what works for me and for my family and friends. Adjusting a particular ingredient to our tastes, trying a new one, or removing another often result in great variants that will become our official one. I also like cooking because by using wholesome ingredients I hope to eat well. Finally, I believe in “you are what you eat [and drink, and breath, and wear]” and I love handmade anything.

The original recipe calls for these ingredients:

  1. 350 g spaghetti
  2. 300 g tomatoes
  3. 4 tablespoons olive oil
  4. 1 garlic clove
  5. 1/2 tablespoon minced garlic
  6. 1/2 spoon capers
  7. 12 black olives
  8. 2 tablespoons grated pecorino
  9. salt
  10. pepper

First of all, multiply everything by 1.3. I don’t feel like cooking 350 g of spaghetti out of a box of 454 or 500 g. I know that 350 g is the amount of pasta you need for 4 portions, but that really applies to Italian meals that include a solid second dish.

Preparation is as follows:

  1. Boil the tomatoes, remove the skin and dry;
  2. Wash and dry capers
  3. Cook the spaghetti
  4. In a pan, on medium-low heat fry the garlic and remove the garlic;
  5. Add tomatoes, salt and pepper to the pan. Cook for 10 minutes;
  6. Just before the pasta is al dente, add olives, capers and minced parsley;
  7. Add everything to a serving bowl and sprinkle the grated pecorino.

When I followed the recipe using the ingredients listed above I felt that it did not include enough tomatoes. I changed the amount to 1.5 kg. and I still feel that it could use more.

I also like garlic, so I leave it in the sauce when it is sauteed. When I don’t have parsley around, I use some from the spice rack. Fresh parsley is definitely nice and I think it is a key ingredient to this recipe.

I have always wondered why a recipe called Marinara does not include anything from the sea. Why couldn’t it call for some anchovies, for example. So when I went to Cava de’ Tirreni and spoke to Vincenzo he said: “yes, I don’t know why it doesn’t call for any fish, I know some people who do add some anchovies, finely minced, at the end.” I have always wanted to try this, but haven’t yet.

The result of this version of the Marinara sauce is far different from what you would think when looking at “Marinara” tomato sauce in the jar at the grocery store. It is far more savory and pleasing. Its delicate taste makes it a favorite and something that can be had often: we space it only 45 days between tries.


Super Simple and Quick Porcini Pasta

Last night we were in a pinch – it was getting late, and we had to make something for dinner that didn’t require a trip to the grocery store. Thanks to Eliana, we had a bag full of porcini mushrooms, picked and dried by her grandmother in Italy! We wanted to do something a little different from our normal porcini risotto, but most of the porcini pasta recipes we consulted required heavy cream, something we did not have.

So, we improvised. Here is a SUPER simple and quick porcini pasta that can be made with ridiculously few ingredients:

Ingredients (serves 4):

  • a handful of dried porcini mushrooms. This is the minimum. More is better.
  • enough beef bouillon cubes to make about 2 cups of broth
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • 2-3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1Tbsp butter (optional)
  • one box of dry pasta (of course fresh would be great if you have it!)
  1. soak the dried porcini in warm or hot water for 10-15 minutes.
  2. start boiling the water for the pasta at this time.
  3. remove the porcini without discarding the water – wring dry, set aside. Chop up the larger pieces, if desired.
  4. pour the remaining porcini juice through a sieve (I use 2 plies of paper towl) into a microwaveable container.
  5. add enough beef bouillon cubes to this porcini juice to make beef-porcini broth, then microwave until hot.
  6. peel, chop and fry the garlic in 2-3 Tbsp of olive oil on low heat.
  7. add the butter (if desired) and porcini, stir-fry for a coupe of minutes.
  8. add the beef-porcini broth and stir to make sure the bouillon(s) have dissolved. Let simmer on low heat until the pasta is ready (al dente!), then coat the pasta in this broth and serve. There will be no “sauce” left, but the pasta will absorb all the flavor, color and aroma of the porcini mushrooms.

May not exactly be restaurant-quality, but given the time and effort involved, it’s deceptively good. This dish was gobbled up as quickly as it was made. Enjoy!