Udon Carbonara: Easy Japanese Twist on an Italian Classic
Udon carbonara is a Japanese twist on an Italian classic. Thick udon noodles are covered in a cheesy carbonara sauce. It’s creamy, decadent, and full of umami flavor!
What is Udon Carbonara?
Udon carbonara is a fun fusion dish with Japanese and Italian influences.
Carbonara is a classic Italian pasta famous for having a creamy sauce consisting of eggs, guanciale, pecorino Romano, and black pepper.
Udon is a thick and chewy noodle made from wheat flour that is a staple in Japanese cuisine.
Taking the best of both worlds, this udon carbonara recipe combines those thick udon noodles with a decadent cheesy miso carbonara sauce and crispy pancetta.
This unique dish is so rich, creamy, and umami packed. You won’t be able to put your chopstick down!
How to Make Udon Carbonara
This dish is pretty easy and only takes 15 minutes to make.
Before we dive into the step-by-step instructions, let’s take a closer look at the ingredients that make this dish unforgettable!
As always, a recipe card is at the end so you can print it out for later or pin to Pinterest for inspiration.
Udon Carbonara Ingredients
- Udon noodles: The centerpiece of this dish are the udon noodles. The texture is addictive and chewy. It’s the perfect vehicle to hold that decadent carbonara sauce.
- Udon cooking water: After boiling the udon noodles, save some of that starchy water. This serves as a thickening agent for the sauce later on.
- Miso: Traditional carbonara is already filled with umami ingredients so the addition of miso is a natural fit. It adds additional depth, umami, and saltiness to the dish. I recommend using white miso which is a more mild, delicate, and sweet miso.
- Garlic: Garlic is not in traditional carbonara. However, I am a garlic girly for life and will find any excuse to include it in a recipe.
- Green onions: Green onions add a little zing and bite to contrast the creamy carbonara sauce.
- Cheese: Pecorino Romano is the cheese used in traditional Italian carbonara. It is a younger cheese made with sheep’s milk and has a brighter, tangy, salty flavor. I like to combine it with parmigiano reggiano also known as parmesan. Parmesan is made with cow’s milk and has a more nutty flavor. Feel free to just use one or adjust the ratio based on your preference.
- Egg yolks: A key ingredient for carbonara. Egg yolks create that luscious texture for the sauce. I also like to serve the dish with a raw egg yolk. The heat from the pasta just barely cooks it and adds an extra level of creaminess. For best results, use high quality egg yolks like Vital Farms pasture-raised eggs. Note that high quality yolks tend to be more orange in color which will cause your sauce to have a darker yellow/orange tint.
- Black pepper: Fresh coarsely ground black pepper adds the perfect amount of spice and warmth to the dish.
- Pancetta: Traditional carbonara uses guanciale, a fatty, salty, cured pork jowl. However, this is not a common thing to find at a local grocery store in the U.S. I think pancetta pork belly works wonderfully as a substitute. I am using Volpi Foods chopped pancetta. Bacon is also a good substitute with a more smoky flavor.
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Step 1: Cook the Udon Noodles
Firstly, bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil on high heat.
I typically buy frozen udon noodles in the refrigerated aisle of my local Asian grocery store.
I like using frozen udon because they cook quickly, it’s easy to store, convenient, and it’s the next best thing to having fresh udon noodles.
You only need to blanch it for a couple of minutes to loosen the strands.
Do not over cook at this step because they will be introduced to heat again and continue to cook later on.
Once the udon strands have separated, save some of that starchy water, at least ¼ cup. Strain the udon noodles from the water and set aside.
Step 2: Prepare the Carbonara Sauce
Secondly, prepare the carbonara sauce.
Crack two eggs and carefully separate the yolks from the whites. Set the whites aside and save them for something else because you will not need them for this recipe.
Grate fresh pecorino and parmesan cheeses. I recommend using the blocks of cheeses as it melts the easiest compared to pre-shredded cheeses. This will create the perfect smooth and creamy sauce. Do not use the green pantry-stable parmesan cheese.
In a mixing bowl, combine the two egg yolks, grated cheeses, miso, and black pepper. Mix well to thoroughly combine.
Cheese and miso are naturally salty so you do not need to add additional salt.
Step 3: Crisp the Pancetta and Garlic
In a pan, cook the pancetta over medium heat until it turns crispy and golden brown.
Add in the garlic towards the end and cook until it becomes fragrant.
Leave the crispy pancetta, garlic, and pork fat in the skillet and turn off the heat.
Step 4: Combine the Udon and Make the Sauce
Now for the best part, it’s time to marry the udon noodles and the carbonara sauce.
The remainder of this recipe will be cooked using residual heat. The residual heat from the skillet will help the sauce thicken slightly, creating a luscious and creamy consistency that clings to the noodles beautifully.
You do not want to use high direct heat because this will cause the eggs to scramble.
Add the cooked udon noodles to the skillet with the pancetta, garlic, and pork fat. Toss gently to coat the noodles evenly.
Next, pour the prepared carbonara sauce mixture and starchy noodle water over the noodles. The starchy noodle water acts like a thickener (compared to regular water) and helps melt the carbonara sauce mixture into a creamy decadent sauce.
If you find that the sauce isn’t melting, turn the heat back on low. Again, use heat sparingly because we want a smooth and creamy sauce, you do not want the eggs to scramble. Once the eggs scramble, there is no fixing it.
Continuously stir to ensure each strand is coated evenly and thoroughly in that creamy goodness.
Taste test and adjust it to your liking. Add in additional starchy noodle water for a thinner sauce or add more cheese for a thicker sauce.
Step 5: Serving Suggestions
Once the sauce has reached the desired thickness, transfer the udon carbonara to individual serving plates.
Add a sprinkling of freshly sliced green onions to each plate, infusing the dish with a touch of freshness.
Finally, top the noodles with a raw egg yolk. Serve and mix the raw yolk while the noodles are still hot.
The residual heat will cook the yolk ever so slightly. Not only is it satisfying but results in a perfectly creamy and rich sauce for the noodles.
I do not recommend making extra or storing leftovers in the fridge. It is very difficult to reheat without breaking or “scrambling” the eggs.
This is a dish that should only be eaten hot, fresh, and not as leftovers.
Save This Recipe for Udon Carbonara
Fusion dishes have continued to gain popularity over time. I love that we can take inspiration from and unite diverse cultures through food. We have more similarities than differences!
This udon carbonara is an unexpected combination of Italian and Japanese cuisine. This unique dish offers a delicious balance of flavors and textures that will leave you craving more.
The chewy udon noodles enveloped in a luscious carbonara sauce, combined with crispy pancetta, and fresh green onions is bound to be a hit whether it’s a family dinner, a special gathering with friends, date night, or for self care!
Hope you enjoy this dish as much as I do!
Did you make this recipe? I would love to see! Tag me on IG @feedmi_ or TikTok @feedmi
Udon Carbonara Recipe
- 2 packs udon noodles
- ¼ cup reserved udon cooking water
- ¼ cup pecorino romano, grated
- ¼ cup parmigiano reggiano, grated
- 4 egg yolks
- 1 tbsp miso
- pinch coarse black pepper
- 2 oz pancetta
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 green onion, sliced
- Boil udon noodles and strain. Reserve some of the starchy water.
- In a bowl combine pecorino romano, parmigiano reggiano, 2 egg yolks, miso, and black pepper. Mix until it becomes paste-like.
- In a pan on medium heat, cook the pancetta with garlic until it is crispy. Once the pancetta is crispy, turn off the stove. The remaining steps will be cooked with residual heat only.
- Add the udon noodles, egg mixture, starchy udon cooking water, and mix until well combined. Taste test and adjust to your liking.
- Serve with green onions and egg yolk. Mix in the yolk while the udon is still warm and enjoy!