Hi folks, I am back after a long disappearance. Had been really busy with other issues. Relocating, packing moving, new adventure in the future. After my previous post, I thought let’s write about something savoury after all the sweets! I believe that in every kitchen pantry there must be a pack of pasta, be it fusilli, spaghetti, angel hair or vermicelli, linguine, macaroni, orecchiette, or what have you, plenty of varieties! Who does not love pasta? It is comfort food for sure, next, it is easy to prepare, and of course easy to please children, with it, they love it. The ever loving mac ‘n cheese is an all time favourite of mine. You can absolutely toss pasta with almost anything your heart desires. Let the mind wander with the various ways of how pasta can be prepared. The pasta can be categorized as Italian style or Oriental. Italian style pasta is primarily wheat based whilst the Oriental pastas are prepared from a variety of flours and starches and form long strands or strips called noodles. Durum wheat is grown in Italy, the Mediterranean, the Middles East, Russia and North and South America. It is a hard wheat high in gluten which is ground into semolina. British semolina is a coarse variety that is not suitable for making pasta. The ingredients for pasta are simple just semolina flour, with water, adding other various ingredients such as eggs, flavouring or vegetable purees, and then shaping it. There are fresh and dried pasta. The fresh ones are to be consumed within afew days. Pastas can be baked, filled, stir fried, in soups, or even in desserts. Different pastas cook at various timings, as it depends on the quality of pasta and hardness of water. Even if the cooking time is indicated on the packet it is advisable to test the pasta to avoid overcooking. Oriental style pasta or noodles, are the predominant type but similar types of dough are filled to make bite sized dumplings served as dim sum. They can be simmered in a soup or even deep fried. I am so sure everyone is an expert in preparing pasta, well there is a proper way, but to each his/her own style the hard core true blue Italian chef would probably just roll their eyes and throw up their aprons at how we make fusion recipes from it! I know an Italian friend of mine would, hahaha! This is a favourite recipe of mine which I had fused with various herbs to call my own. I had actually wanted to make just pasta with seafood and creamy tomato sauce but instead I decided to add these aromatic herbs to have that ala Thai feel. Plus after returning from our holiday in Phuket I am still in a “Thai” mode. As with the usual cooking of pasta goes it is usually stated as “al dente” well I do not like mine very “al dente” it still feels like I am eating rubber bands.
I love herbs and spices, somehow that makes a dish more interesting in terms of flavour and smell. Especially in Asia, where one can get hold of these aromatic herbs in abundance. It makes absolute sense to incorporate them into the day to day dishes that we cook and create them into something extraordinary. My cooking style does not use exact measurements in terms of cups, ounces or grams. It’s with the touch, feel, and taste. I use my instincts to cook, and as someone from the Culinary Institute of America had said to me, she uses the cookbook more as a guide, the rest is up to you to create your dish, your bakes. I love Thai food, and a good friend of mine is Mary, a brilliant interior designer and a fantastic cook. She cooks fabulous southern style Thai food as she is a native of Phuket. I was glad to receive some tips and even jot down recipes on how to make some of the lovely dishes taught to her by her grandmother and mother. I did try and replicate them, and they turned out really good in fact, and my dinner guests loved them. This was a dish I thought of making one evening a slipshot work of mine actually. I use Thai basil, coriander and kaffir lime leaves, some lemongrass and Thai chilli paste, abit of a fiery dish yes, but its played down abit by the tomato puree and cream making it into creamy, spicy tomato sauce. So thank you, dear Mary for the tips and with this pasta dish, I dedicate this page to you.
Recipe for Pasta ala Thai fused with Three Herbs in Spicy Tomato Sauce
300g prawns (washed and skinned leaving tails in tact)
8 mussels (washed and cleaned)
10 pc shitake mushrooms
1 stalk lemongrass bruised
1 medium onion chopped
1 clove garlic chopped
2 dried chillies cut thinly (if one can take the heat)
1 small bunch of Thai basil leaves
1 small bunch coriander (cilantro) leaves
4-5 kaffir lime leaves (makrut, or limau purut)
1 tsp Thai chilli paste – I used Mae Pranom Thai chilli paste
2 tbsp char siew sauce for that thick sweet malt flavour – I used Lee Kum Kee brand
1 small punnet cherry tomatoes halved
2 -3 tbsp tomato puree (gauge)
200ml cooking cream – I used Emborg/Arla/President
Spaghetti for cooked for 2
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt to taste
Extra chilli flakes for garnish
- Heat about 3 tbsp oil in a large pan.
- Fry the onions, garlic, and some dried chillies (optional) until fragrant. Add the halved tomatoes, chilli paste and the char siew sauce. Then the mushrooms. Stir well. Add the prawns and incorporate with the stir fried spices.
- Crush the kaffir lime leaves, tear up some coriander and Thai basil leaves and mix well with the prawns. Add the tomato puree and mix well. Pour the cream bit by bit. Add the mussels last.
- At this time taste and see if you need to add any salt or a tad of brown sugar. The heat of the spices should blend in well by now.
Boil some water for the spaghetti, sprinkle some salt. Cook to your preference. Drain. Toss into the sauce. Serve hot with extra herbs.
- Note : The sauces I used can be found at local supermarkets or those abroad, Asian grocery stores. If you lessen the chilli paste add a dash of fish sauce. Happy trying!