This recipe is sponsored by Nakano Natural and Seasoned Rice Vinegar.

Whenever I hear people say they love Japanese food, they are usually referring to sushi. And though I will concur that sushi is indeed amazing, Japanese food is much more diverse than that. Walk down any street in Japan and you will see bakeries filled with pastries, crustless sandwiches and classic French baguette, a shop that specializes in curries and potato croquettes, a yakitori bar with skewered chicken breast, skin and offal cooking on charcoal grills, a family restaurant offering hambagu and okosama lunch special for kids, and my husband’s favorite: Japanese pasta.



It’s true – Japanese people have mastered the art of making good pasta. Pasta so amazing you crave it constantly and dream about it day and night. The first time Ben had pasta in Japan was during the summer of 2010. It was a hot day so we each ordered a chilled tomato pasta with fresh basil. What he didn’t know was that the preparation itself would be very different than what he was used to getting in America. Yes, there were plenty of freshly chopped tomatoes in the dish, but the sauce itself was a mix of soy sauce, rice vinegar and sesame oil. No red or pesto-like sauce for my Ben but instead a big bowl of “welcome to Japan” flavored pasta! If you love soy sauce as much as he does, then it’s like you’ve been given the best thing in the world on a plate. I was still on my third bite when I noticed Ben wiping off his plate clean with a piece of bread. That summer, Ben ate pasta pretty much every time he had the opportunity to – at train stations, on the top floor of department stores, even at Seven Eleven.

Since then, I’ve learned to make Japanese flavored pasta at home to spare him from suffering withdrawal symptoms, which brings me to today’s post. Oh my yum! This chilled spaghetti recipe reminds me of the dish we had in 2010 but with tuna added to it. 


Something wonderful happens when soy sauce meets rice vinegar and sesame oil and gets tossed in pasta; the flavors are so complimentary they dance on your palate bite after bite. By now you how much of a rice vinegar freak I am – I love the natural sweetness it imparts into dishes and how cleansing it feels.

Finding good rice vinegar is essential to cooking with it. If you get one that contains a lot of sugar or artificial flavor, it can ruin the taste of sushi rice, a salad dressing or in this case, pasta. I use Nakano’s Organic Rice Vinegar because it contains no salt or sugar. It’s also gluten free and MSG free. This way, I get 100% unadulterated rice vinegar flavor in my pasta!


Topping this chilled spaghetti with fresh shiso leaves will give it a very unique plum like taste. You can find them at your local Asian market or grocer. If you find the flavor of shiso leaves too intense, swap them for basil. It’s just as delicious and will give your pasta a little Italian flair. I also love to add a few strips of nori sheets which bring an mineral and earthy element to the dish.

This pasta is best served fresh but you can make the sauce ahead of time and keep it refrigerated for up to two weeks. This way, you will only have to boil the noodles and toss them with chopped tomatoes and tuna flakes. This is an easy and very addictive family dinner everyone will love!

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Did you like this Japanese Chilled Tomato And Tuna Spaghetti Recipe? Are there changes you made that you would like to share?

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Japanese Chilled Tomato And Tuna Spaghetti

This is a bright, cleansing and refreshing Japanese pasta recipe that’s perfect for warmer days or for those looking to eat lighter!

  • Author: Caroline Phelps
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 6 minutes
  • Total Time: 16 minutes
  • Yield: 6 people 1x
  • Category: Main
  • Cuisine: Japanese


  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 can tuna in water – reserve 2 tablespoons tuna water from the can
  • 1 small onion (very finely chopped)
  • 2 large tomatoes (diced)
  • 1 pound dry thin spaghetti or regular spaghetti
  • 1/4 cup shiso leaves or basil (shredded, about 12 leaves)
  • nori sheet (shredded)
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Put soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, olive oil, sesame oil and 2 tablespoons tuna water and whisk until sugar has dissolved.
  2. Put onions, tomatoes and tuna in a bowl and pour sauce on top. Toss to coat evenly and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes.
  3. Bring a large pot of water with salt (water should be salty to taste) and add spaghetti. Cook until al dente, according to directions on the package (about 6-7 minutes for thin spaghetti). Rinse under cold water and drain well.
  4. Put spaghetti and sauce in a bowl and toss until coated evenly. Season with salt and pepper and serve topped with shiso leaves or basil and shredded nori.


This Japanese spaghetti will keep refrigerated for 2 days.

Keywords: recipe, pasta, healthy

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