Uni pasta is a popular fusion combo of Italian food with Japanese and has become a staple at izakaya restaurants. There are many different ways to make it, but my favorite way is by far the uni carbonara. It’s a spinoff of the traditional carbonara recipe, with the egg sauce infused with uni instead of the bacon, giving it a more seafood-like flavor and making it one of my personal favorite pasta sauces.
How I Made A Healthy Uni Pasta – The Fitsian Method
Carbonara is not traditionally seen as a diet food -- but once I looked into the key ingredients that went into making carbonara, I realized that it's easy to make healthy.
The key ingredients to any carbonara recipe are eggs, cheese, and something umami. By keeping portion control in mind, especially for higher calorie ingredients, I'm able to keep this dish at under 400 calories. Here's what I did to achieve this:
- Used only 1 serving of pasta (~200 calories)
- Portioned out exactly 1 tablespoon of grated Parmesan cheese at 20 calories and one egg at 70 calories
- Used 57g of uni (~90 calories), which was the amount on the whole tray
For a detailed breakdown of each ingredients, their portioning, and how they make up the nutrition profile of the chicken rice recipe, you may refer to the table below:
If you liked this recipe, check out the following:
- Pasta Without Pounds recipe collection for more low calorie pasta recipes
- 30 Healthy Japanese Recipes for more low calorie and high protein Japanese recipe ideas
- Carbone Spicy Rigatoni
Uni Carbonara Sauce
- Uni - The star of the show of the dish. You can usually find uni at your local Japanese grocery store or select seafood markets. If you don't have access to either, you can also order it online - I would recommend the Santa Barbara fish market for top quality.
- Parmesan Cheese - This is an essential base of any carbonara sauce. Use finely grated cheese for best results to create a creamy consistency.
- Egg - Another essential in carbonara. Be sure to whisk thoroughly for optimal sauce consistency.
- Dashi Stock Powder (Optional) -This gives the sauce an additional kick of umami.
- Pasta - I used Fusili col Buco because I love the shape, but any long form pasta would work well. I would recommend using long pasta to capture the sauce.
- Aromatics - Garlic and onions mixed and sautéed to add additional flavor to the dish.
- Seasonings - Salt and pepper to taste; Red pepper fakes for an additional kick
- Garnishes (Optional)- Tobiko, scallions, bonito flakes, and furikake
Step By Step Instructions
Cook the pasta - Start by cooking the pasta in salted boiling water according to the time listed on the package instructions. Add some dashi into the water for some extra flavor.
Make the sauce - Use a blender to grind the uni until smooth. In a small bowl, assemble the sauce ingredients and whisk together thoroughly.
Sauté aromatics - In a skillet, begin to sauté minced onions, garlic, and red pepper flakes if using.
Save the pasta water - As the pasta is about to finish cooking, take out about a fourth cup of pasta water from the pot and reserve.
Mix in pasta into the skillet -Turn the heat to low, then begin to mix in the uni carbonara sauce thoroughly, adding in pasta water if needed to adjust the consistency. Taste and season with salt and pepper if desired.
Serve the pasta top with scallions, bonito flakes, and furikake, and enjoy your delicious Uni Carbonara! This is definitely one I'm planning to make again and again.
Save the Pasta Water - Pasta water is especially essential for achieving the perfect sauce consistency for this recipe. I use a cup to scoop some out of the cooking pasta to make sure I always have extra on hand.
Be Sure To Turn The Heat to Low When Mixing The Sauce With The Pasta - If the pan is too hot, the egg will solidify and overcook, turning our sauce into scrambled eggs! Sometimes I even turn the heat completely off, then slowly turn the heat to low to ensure the right sauce consistency.
- Mentaiko instead of Uni - Mentaiko has a similar briny taste compared to uni and is a cheaper and easier to find alternative
- Udon noodles - The thick and chewy udon noodles make for a great noodle alternative to pasta noodles. This combo is very popular with izakaya restaurants.
- Angel hair or bucatini - Angel hair has a thinner noodle while bucatini is a thicker noodle so depends on your preference
- Low calorie pasta - If you want to be extra calorie conscious, Fiber Gourmet spaghetti is a great way to enjoy this pasta with half the calories. (I am not sponsored by them, I truly think their pasta tastes like the real deal and personally have it as a pantry staple).
- Cheese: For a sharper taste and a more authentic Italian carbonara recipe, use pecorino romano instead of parmesan.
- Omit garlic for a more classic carbonara recipe
- Add bacon for a more classic carbonara recipe with a new spin on surf and turf. Just note that bacon is not the healthiest ingredient if you are health conscious.
- Mix in some chili oil for those who like an extra kick.
- Add some crab meat to make for a more filling seafood centric dish.
- Make a cacio e pepe version of the dish - replace the egg with 3 more tablespoons of cheese and add extra black pepper
- Use an olive oil and wine reduction sauce or use heavy cream - note that this will make the fat content of the dish significantly higher so would not recommend doing this if you are calorie conscious
For best results, I would recommend eating this dish fresh. Uni, like most raw seafood dishes, needs to be eaten within the day. Reheating carbonara also does not tend to bode well for the consistency of the sauce given that it is egg-based and will likely overcook.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Yes -- carbonara is essentially pasta paired with an egg based sauce -- so at it's core, its carbs dressed in a protein sauce! We all need a baseline level of carbs in order to function properly and 1 serving of pasta is definitely a manageable amount. Using 1 egg, 1 tablespoon of cheese, and mixing in the uni make this sauce predominantly protein based while still being delicious.
Uni is the roe of sea urchin. It is low in calories and high in protein, making it a delicious and healthy ingredient to incorporate into your recipes. A 25g serving of protein comes is about 40 calories and is predominantly made of protein (5g per serving).
I bought my uni at my local HMart. They can also usually be found at Japanese grocery stores and/or specialty seafood markets. If you want to get some of the best uni in the United States (not sponsored, just my opinion), you can actually order it directly to you through the Santa Barbara Fish Market website.
If you liked this recipe, check out the following:
Uni Pasta Carbonara
Uni Carbonara Sauce
- 1 Egg
- 1 tablespoon Parmesan Cheese
- 57 g Uni (About 1 small tray)
- 1 teaspoon Dashi stock powder
- 55 g Pasta (I used Fusilli do Buco but any kind works)
- 1 clove Garlic (Minced)
- 2 tablespoon Onions (Minced)
- 1 teaspoon Red pepper flakes (Optional)
- Salt & Pepper
- Scallions, bonito flakes, and furikake (Optional: For garnish)
Nutrition & Macros
- 375 Calories
- 25 g Protein
- 13 g Fat
- 47 g Carbs
- Start by cooking the pasta in salted boiling water according to the time listed on the package instructions. Add some dashi into the water for some extra flavor.
- In a small bowl, assemble the sauce ingredients and whisk together until smoothly blended and the uni is relatively mixed in. Set aside.
- In a skillet, begin to sauté minced onions, garlic, and red pepper flakes if using.
- As the pasta is about to finish cooking, take out about a fourth cup of pasta water from the pot and reserve. Mix in pasta into the skillet. Turn the heat to low, then begin to mix in the uni carbonara sauce thoroughly, adding in pasta water if needed to adjust the consistency. Taste and season with salt and pepper if desired.
- Remove from heat, top with scallions, bonito flakes, and furikake, and enjoy your delicious Uni Carbonara! This is definitely one I'm planning to make again and again.