Sunday, February 11, 2007

Linguini Loving

You know how almost pasta has been and always will be the student's choice of meals when they're studying overseas? I for one totally agree with them. I mean, coming from an Asian country, pasta such as spaghetti, tagliatelle and linguini are the closest you can get to noodles; something which we've grown up with. Plus, they're just so easy to cook!

The thing that I don't agree about is to just have the same old boring tomato sauce and mince meat with pasta ALL the time. Now don't get me wrong. Cooked properly, the traditional bolognese is absolutely delicious and is arguably the easiest pasta sauce to prepare. However, with just a little tinkering and experimentation you can easily dress up hundreds of different sexy numbers to accompany those long stringy carbo bad boys.

I've recently taken a liking to linguini, mainly because they're so easy to cook. The typical spaghetti takes about 10-12 minutes to get ready, but linguini is all ready to please in just 6 minutes. I like. :) Toss them with some olive oil or flavoured oil, salt and pepper and you already have a good base to start with. In fact, toss in some canned tuna, tomatoes and herbs and it already is a great meal.

See how easy it is? Less than 20 minutes to prepare.

I made a Thai-oriental style topping a few weeks ago to put on top of some linguini that has been tossed with sesame oil, salt and pepper. This was very, very hot and spicy so adjust the chillies to your own taste ok?

Fry some garlic and onions until fragrant. Add in some mince meat (it can be pork, beef or even lamb), lots of chopped birds' eye chillies and basil. Basil is important to give the dish its distinct flavour and fragrance. Stir fry until the meat is almost cooked. Then, put in some fish sauce, soy sauce and ground black pepper to taste. I also dropped in some mushrooms as I had some left in the fridge. Let it all simmer for about 10-12 minutes to let the meat absorb all the funky mojo and get a bit tender. Toss in some chopped peppers (capsicum) and spring onions. Stir fry for probably another 2-3 minutes and then just serve on top of the linguini. If the sauce is too watery just simmer until it gets thicker before adding in the peppers.

Come to think of it, you can actually use any type of noodles - yellow, egg, rice, udon, flat, kuey teow. I think they will all work with the oriental flavour.

Another recipe I tried was a seafood marinara sauce. In contrast to the exotic East, this sauce is relatively simple and basic but equally delicious. While the fiery and strong oriental flavours are exciting, this western version has a subtle, quiet elegance.

For this dish, just get a can of chopped tomatoes in their own juice, some garlic, onions and some seafood. I just got a pack of mixed seafood from the supermarket; it had mussels, prawns and squid.

Heat up some olive oil and fry the onions until fragrant and soft. Toss in the garlic and stir until you can smell them. Put in freshly ground black pepper and salt. I'd recommend using sea salt. Normal table salt can taste bitter and doesn't have any fragrance and taste to it. It's just...salty. Sea salt, on the other hand, has a nice flavour depending on what type of salt you get. It also tastes kind of sweet. This will make a lot of difference in your cooking, especially if its a simple dish.

Pour in the can of chopped tomatoes and simmer for a bit until the sauce get a bit thick. You want it to have a thick consistency because seafood has a lot of water content. If your sauce is not thick before you put the critters in, you'll end up drinking seafood tomato soup instead (Hey! That's another dish! Hehe).

Anyway, put the seafood in and cook for about 3-4 minutes and your sauce has a nice consistency. Serve it on top of the linguini and garnish with parsley or coriander.

Finally, take a picture of the dish, pull out your fork and spoon, and tuck in! :)

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