Disliked eating pasta. Bolognese is often eaten in Malaysia and often it comes with sour tomato paste, cheese, cheese and more cheese. Otherwise carbonara was also quite popular, thick cream mix with thick cream.
Freddie was probably the first friend who made the more authentic pasta bolognese and I thought it was quite yummy and I would like to make these myself. Upon asking him how and what was the secret, he said to me – fresh ingredients, nothing comes from the can or pre-bottled bolognese sauce. So I tried a few times and some times it is tasty, some times it doesn’t exactly come out how I like.
Second time I got WOW effect with pasta was when Willem made me the Pasta Gamberi. It was the type of pasta that I like – the true Italian pasta without the American accent.
In December 2010, we made a trip to Palermo. The spaghetti vongole, aglio e olio… the food looks so simple and basic yet is super delicious. Soon I discovered they are pretty easy to make.
Ingredients (for 2 persons):
- 10 Prawns – if you can get fresh with shells and heads, that would be nice. In
Maastricht, it’s not easy and extremely expensive to get fresh prawns unlike in Singapore/Malaysia so I been eating frozen prawns, quite ok also
140 gram Spaghetti – try Barilla No.5, good quality spaghetti is important to make your food taste good
- 4 big ripe tomatoes – cut into dice. Get some juicy fresh red tomatoes, avoid the sour ones. If you can find those with the vine still attached, good, 6-8 medium size tomatoes
- Italian basil – Fresh leafs, a handful
- Garlic – 6 cloves, chopped finely
- Salt – 2 tablespoon
- Olive oil – Good quality olive oil helps your cooking taste better!
- Shallots (optional) – 2, chopped finely. I like my Gamberi with shallot while Willem prefers the original recipe without them
- 1/2 glass white wine (optional) – If it’s not good for drinking, it’s not fit for cooking too
Peel the prawns shells and head, I keep them to add fragrance to my oil but if you can’t be bothered to, don’t need to do the same. Clean the prawns and remove the “intestine” from the back, if you do not know how, youtube “how to clean prawns” and you will see 500 different videos showing you how.
For presentation purposes, some people like to cook the prawns in whole, personally I prefer to cut them in half so that I feel like I get more prawns in my pasta.
Heat up some olive oil in the pan and throw in the prawns heads and shells. When they turn red and you think you have gotten all the “juice” out of them, discard the shells and heads, leave the olive oil in the pan. Lower the heat with the same oil (you will now smell the fragrance from the prawns), put in the garlic and shallots, stir for about 90 seconds, add half a glass of wine into the sauce and let it evaporate. Add the tomatoes, keep stirring until they are all soften – you can cover the pan for a few minutes so you will keep the moist. The tomatoes skin will come off.
At the same time, you may start cooking your pasta. Add 2 tablespoon of salt and a dash of olive oil into the boiling water, cook the pasta for 8 minutes if you like it “al dante”. Time it, don’t risk having your paste under or over cooked.
Back to the sauce: when the tomatoes look rather meshed together with the garlic and shallot, add the prawns and half a scoop of the boiling water from the spaghetti pot. The reason for this is that the pasta starch in the water will work as a binding and thickening agent. Let it cook for a while but not too long, remember prawns cook very quickly! Make sure the heat is not too high to avoid the sauce from drying out.
Now remove the spaghetti (after being boiled for 8 minutes) from the boiling water and add them into your sauce with some extra olive oil.
Stir the spaghetti and the sauce for about 1 minute on low heat. Remove from the heat and ready to serve.
Salt is no needed in the sauce because the spaghetti was cooked in salty water and it will bring the taste to the sauce.
Serve the pasta into the plates and hand tear the basil on top of the pasta. Do not cut or tear the basil before this or you will lose some taste and smell of the herb. You may of course sprinkle some freshly ground black pepper on top if you like.
After you make this dish once, you will be able to repeat the recipe without looking at the notes because it’s really easy to prepare and cook.
Note: if you love spicy food, add in the chili padi to spice up the dish. I often add chili padi and like the zing of it.