Thursday, August 15, 2013

The almost perfect seafood urchin pasta, created from a memory of Capri



The other night, in Tokyo living a Travelife, I made a very good sea urchin pasta.

I'd been wanting to make one for a long time now as I'd been mulling about how to do it properly in my head -- what ingredients to use and in what proportions.

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NO RECIPES...

I never use recipes, you see, so it's just a matter of remembering a taste I like and recreating it for myself.

Or imagining how a particular set of ingredients or flavors would go together.

My friends are constantly amazed at how I can cook without recipes.

And perhaps they're also amazed at how I can invite some pretty important people over and serve them food based on spur-of-the-moment inspiration, instead of based on a tried-and-tested formula.



TWO SIDES TO A COIN

The upside to this no-recipe-method is that cooking becomes all about inspiration and creativity.

A lot of times, I don't know what I will actually cook until I see what's on sale in the market or what I have in my fridge.

The downside is that if I make something really well, the chances of getting that exact same taste again are on the slim side, since there's nothing written to base the formula on.





MEMORIES OF CAPRI.
AND THE BEST SEA URCHIN PASTA IN THE WORLD.

Now my inspiration for a sea urchin pasta came from a most amazing sea urchin pasta I'd had years ago, in a rather nondescript restaurant on the island of Capri, in Italy.

It wasn't one of those famous or fancy restaurants, and so I don't remember the name of the establishment.

But I do remember that it was located along the walking path to Anacapri, after getting off the car from Capri proper, and it was a most ordinary looking place.

But this was where I had the best sea urchin pasta in the world.



SIX ORDERS FOR TWO PEOPLE.
BECAUSE IT WAS SO GOOD.

It was so good, in fact, that we ordered it five more times in one sitting.

Yes, we were two, and we each had three orders of sea urchin pasta.


LOVE AT FIRST TASTE

It was love at first sight. Or perhaps I should say "love at first taste."

And since then, I've ordered sea urchin pasta whenever I've seen it on the menu, somewhere in the world, living a Travelife.

I've been trying to find a place that can make one as good as that pasta I had in Capri, but I haven't found my place yet.

Perhaps I should just return to Capri one day.



THE BASICS FOR A SEA URCHIN PASTA SAUCE

In the meantime, I decided to just try and do it myself the other day.

I did a basic sauce with garlic, onions, red chili flakes and some spices.



Then I added the raw sea urchin, which was of a very good grade used for sashimi, and I marinated this for a short while in lemon juice.

At the very last minute, I added the sea urchin to the basic sauce, just to let some heat run through it.

And then I finished off about 200 grams of very al dente noodles in the pan with the sauce -- basically cooking the noodles for the last 90 seconds in the pan with the sauce itself


AN ALMOST PERFECTLY DONE SAUCE



This resulted in perfectly done noodles that had seeped in enough of an almost perfectly done sauce.

It was very good, but I should have put a dash less of chili flakes and garlic.

That would have made it perfect.

But I was so happy to be able to recreate, in some way, that wonderful pasta I'd had one weekend on a beautiful summer day in Capri, living a never-ending, and never-endingly eventful Travelife.




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