Last weekend in Manila, living a #Travelife, I made my own version of a seafood pasta for lunch at home with friends. I placed in caviar, scallops, lobster and salmon, and it’s just something I concocted in my head so I don’t really have a recipe.
All I have is a way of doing things based on spending so much time in Italy in a past life, searching for good pasta all over the country.
We also used to take a villa in the countryside of Umbria for the summer so I would spend lots of time in the markets and then make dinners for a whole rotation of people dropping by every week.
SORRY NO RECIPES.
JUST SOME GENERAL INSTRUCTIONS
FOR HOW TO MAKE THIS PASTA.
And lots of people who saw the photos I posted on Facebook — as well as my friends who ate at my home in Manila last Sunday — really wanted to know how to do this pasta. I make this pasta all over the world based on seafood, and the ingredients differ wherever I am.
But so far, so good. Everyone seems to like my versions of it.
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A SPAGHETTI ALLA VONGOLE
Three weekends ago, for instance, a group of my friends in Tokyo sat down to lunch at my home there and I’d done a vongole pasta with fresh “asari” clams (short-necked clams). Most of them said this was one of the best spaghetti alla vongole they’d ever had.
Mr. X, who’s enjoyed pasta at my house lots of times, then said: “You should taste her seafood pasta. It’s fantastic too.“
Yes, he thinks I make the best pasta dishes ever. Once I made a risotto from leftovers in my fridge in fifteen minutes for him and another guy, and they swore this was the best risotto they’d ever had.
This photo has no relation to my pasta. But it was taken in a riad in Fes, Morocco last November, where I learned how to make a killer chicken tagine, which is another great casual dinner party staple.
SIMPLE, QUICK AND DELICIOUS RECIPES
Anyway, both are really simple to make and apart from soaking the clams in distilled water for about 30 minutes, the actual cooking time is more like 15 minutes, which makes it great for parties.
I’ll post the general how-to for these pastas (as I don’t have recipes) soon.
HOW TO MAKE MY PASTA WITH SEAFOOD
For now, it’s the caviar pasta.
1) You must use dried pasta for this as the quality of al dente matters immensely. Lots of people try to impress by making fresh pasta (myself included), but fresh pasta ends up too soft and not “strong” enough to hold this seafood pasta sauce. Personally I like using the regular De Cecco spaghettini or spaghtetti for this particular pasta.
2) The base is aglio e olio, and you can find a base recipe for this in any cookbook. I don’t use a recipe but I just mix garlic, olive oil, sea salt, some chilli and pepper to taste. In this case, the caviar adds lots of saltiness to the dish, so you must temper your use of sea salt.
Make the pasta very al dente so that you can finish it off in the separate sauce pan you are cooking your aglio e olio with, enabling the noodles to soak up the sauce more.
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HOW TO ADD THE REST OF THE INGREDIENTS
3) The rest of the ingredients are never cooked together with the noodles for a significant time.
– The scallops are grilled in garlic butter while the pasta and the sauce are cooking, and then you add this first when tender.
– Ahead of time, you can make a salmon gravlax. Again, I have my own version in my head, which basically is to chop up smoked salmon and marinate this in a light sauce rather than a creamy one; but you can find recipes for this everywhere.
– Again, ahead of time, I prepare a simple version of lobster thermidor and chop this up.
– In the fridge are two cans of the best reasonably priced caviar I can find. This will be caviar for a pasta, after all, so no need to blow the bank account on a top-grade one as the difference will be incremental.
4) Once pasta is soon to to be ready and it has soaked in the sauce, mix the scallops in as this will soak in the flavours as well.
5) Add the lobster thermidor slices and stir in as well.
6) At this point, turn up the heat and pour in a glass of very good dry white wine, preferably Italian. I usually like to open a bottle when cooking anyway, especially in my home in Tokyo, so I just pour a glass from this bottle into the pasta and the drink the rest.
Some people say you should use cheap wine for cooking, but I think the quality of the wine matters a lot.
6) Then turn off the heat once the wine has semi-evaporated, taking care that your noodles are still al dente. Quickly add the salmon gravlax and stir one more time, but less vigorously.
THIS IS WHERE THE CAVIAR COMES IN
Spoon the mixture onto individual serving plates that have been warmed in the oven.
Just before you are ready to serve, open your two tins of caviar and spoon generous servings of these on top of the pasta. I personally get two different kinds of caviar just for variety, and I spoon these two kinds on top of each other.
And voila, you are ready to eat.
THE BEST SEAFOOD PASTA
Some friends last Sunday said it was the best pasta they’ve ever had.
They’re probably just being nice, but I have to say that I really do great pastas as I personally love eating good pasta — which reminds me that a trip to Italy is long overdue in my never-ending, and never-endingly eventful #Travelife.