I used to live in Japan and if you have ever spent time there you probably know that the Japanese can appreciate a good classic Italian pasta dish as much as any American. You probably also know that the Japanese are endlessly creative with pasta, adapting it to their palates and the flavor profiles they enjoy most in Japanese food. This means spicy cod roe pasta topped with shredded seaweed, pasta with fermented soy beans and all kinds of other, Japanese, takes on spaghetti as we know it. Miso is one of those ingredients that appears often in Japanese pasta dishes and it works REALLY well. I came up with this dish because I almost always have miso, dried spaghetti and the handful of other items it requires on hand. I love the combination of toasty, umami flavors and the crunch of the hazelnuts. I find that a tiny splash of vinegar at the end brings the sauce together and brightens up the dish. —Michelle Barry
Cook spaghetti until al dente in a large pot of salted water. Drain and set aside, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid.
In a large, dry skillet, toast hazelnuts until brown and fragrant. Set aside and allow to cool before chopping roughly.
Add butter to skillet and swirl butter in skillet over medium heat until butter just barely begins to brown and smell toasty. Do not let the butter brown too much in this step because you will need to keep cooking it with the shallot and garlic in the next step.
Lower the heat and add shallot and garlic for a few minutes until shallot becomes translucent. Keep the pan on low heat and take your time here to make sure the garlic and shallot are cooked through. This may take up to 7 minutes.
Add Worcestershire sauce, miso and a little bit of the reserved pasta sauce to the pan and whisk until no lumps of miso remain. Add more pasta water if sauce remains too thick or clumpy. Whisk in cider vinegar. Season to taste, keeping in mind that topping with Parmesan will add salt.