One of the traditional pasta recipes from Rome is the Carbonara. Last year, Sho and I visited couple of cities in Italy, and ever since we cannot forget the taste of the Carbonara we had in Rome. The ingredients were so simple, yet surprisingly rich and delicious. After what we’ve encountered there, we decided to try to replicate it at home in Tokyo. Today, let us show you the tips to make the Roman style Carbonara, using ingredients accessible in Japan.


History of Carbonara

Carbonara is a pasta originated in Rome, made with fresh eggs, cheese, pork, and black pepper. It derives from the word “carbone” in Italian, meaning ash or charcoal, which metaphorically describes the black pepper in the fresh yellow pasta dish. Carbonara was said to be invented around the period of world war II, and became popular in Japan around the 1980s. We could tell from this that Carbonara is actually a pretty recent recipe, that quickly spread across the globe in a short period of time.

What is the difference between the Japanese and the original Roman Carbonara?

While the original Roman Carbonara uses only fresh eggs and cheese for the sauce, the Carbonara cooked in Japan uses fresh cream. Therefore, the ones cooked in Japan becomes more soupy with the fresh white cream sauce poured over the spaghetti. Meanwhile, the Roman original Carbonara uses only raw beaten eggs, and the powdered cheese mixes well with the egg, sticking to the pasta. So visually, the Roman style Carbonara is more yellow from the egg and cheese, coating over the pasta.

Also, the original Roman Carbonara is very simple, as it only uses cured pork (such as pancetta or bacon) as the ingredients for the pasta. The Japanese Carbonara usually adds a little more ingredients such as vegetables like mushrooms, onions, and spinach. Just from these differences, you can realize how the original Roman style is more simple.

My husband’s plate became a little soupy unexpectedly!

Highly recommended for beginner cooks

At first, I thought making Carbonara at home would be a challenging task, considering the rich and sophisticated flavor. Being a beginner cook myself, I cannot stress enough how much this recipe is easy to cook. It requires very less effort & time, and the outcome is just over the top! Let’s briefly go through the 3 basic steps:

Mix raw eggs in a large bowl along with powdered cheese, shredded cheese, salt, and black grind pepper.

Egg and cheese

Stir fry cured pork (bacon/sausages) with olive oil.

Boil the spaghetti. Once done and drained, mix everything together in the large bowl and serve!

Mixed everything in a bawl

Now do you agree it’s an easy task? You probably already have most of the ingredients in your refrigerator, so why not start cooking for your next meal?

Recommended Japanese ingredients to enhance the dish

Firstly, I recommend you to try the recipe from the original simple ingredients, using only the cured pork. However, I also want to introduce some Japanese vegetables that go so well with the fresh egg pasta.

Onions: Japanese onions are so sweet, and it’s soft texture after stir fried mixes so well with the egg and cheese.

Shiitake Mushrooms: Adding this enriches the flavor at once! Japanese shiitake mushrooms have more fragrance than the regular white mushrooms. Since the mushroom shrinks when stir fried, I recommend you to cut them into larger chunks, just so you could enjoy the texture when eating. The fragrance will induce such comfort that you would want to eat more! This ingredient is highly recommended.

Sausages: If you don’t have bacon or pork at home, sausages always will become an alternative. Japanese sausages are special. The skin is very thin, so when cooked it becomes crispy on the outside, but super juicy on the inside.

Sho and I cooked this recipe because we wanted to replicate the super delicious Roman dish we encountered in Italy. Also because we still work from home due to the Covid-19, we always aim for a quick & easy lunch that we can cook & eat within 45 minutes. This recipe only takes 15 minutes to cook, and the ingredients are highly accessible worldwide. So why not choose this recipe for tomorrow’s lunch?


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