Lately, I find myself cooking pasta more and more like the Italian way of cooking it. Well, I mean, the Jamie Oliver and Gennaro Contaldo way. If you have no idea what this means, maybe you can take a look at this video first.
Okay, you don’t want to watch the video, let me tell you. In the past, when we (Malaysians) talk about cooking pasta, it is always boiling some pasta, and then pouring some heated store bought tomato sauce/white sauce over the pasta. Sometimes we might throw in extra onions, garlic or sausages when heating the sauce.
The Gennaro way does not use store bought sauces. He cooks his own sauce, and then cooks the boiled pasta over the sauce before serving it. It is quite similar to Chinese style stir fried noodles in a sense. After watching countless of Gennaro’s pasta videos, I come to a conclusion that while he might have different recipes, the basic steps are the same:
- Boil pasta,
- Saute onions, garlic, chili (those fragrant stuff) in a pan,
- Add the meats/seafood into the pan and sear them,
- Add vegetables into the pan and cook for a bit,
- Add boiled pasta into the pan and cook for a bit more, mixing everything up,
With these 6 basic steps, you can create a million different pasta recipes on your own… And I am going to show you two of my recent recipes today.
I actually just wanted to finish up my macaroni stash after coming back from KL because they have been lying around for quite some time.
Mac and Cheese… and Bacon and Peas
Sunday evening, I saw that I still have a bit of those Camembert cheese left in the fridge, so I thought maybe I should have some delicious mac and cheese. And when I do mac and cheese, I always have bacon, because bacon is delicious.
Oh ya, I bought a new non stick wok. It was an impulse purchase. I saw this wok selling at RM 159.90 previously, but it was RM 99.90 when I saw it again last week. So I grabbed it. A wok is much deeper than a pan and much better for stir frying, so it should be a good purchase…
So I boiled some of my macaroni, and in the mean time chopped up the bacon strips and the cheese. Then I heated a bit of olive oil in my new wok and chucked the bacon bits in to fry and crisp up. Then I thought about mom and her nagging and felt guilty, so I decided to add some green peas into the wok.
When the smell coming out from the wok was wonderful, I threw in the boiled macaroni and stirred them all up for a bit.
A little bit of salt and pepper for seasoning, and then I discovered I bought something by mistake…
Now, you guys know I don’t do herbs when I cook, like, ever… I actually wanted to buy crushed garlic powder, because I am getting lazier and lazier to deal with raw garlic all the time. I didn’t realize I got the wrong bottle when I was paying. I didn’t even realize I got the wrong bottle when I was unpacking my grocery at home. I only realized when I wanted to add garlic powder into my pasta and saw this instead.
Anyway, what’s done is done. What the heck, waste not want not. Might as well use it and see if I can acquire a new taste. So I sprinkled some of this thyme in with the salt and pepper as well.
Finally, I added the chopped cheese into the wok and turned off the heat, using just the residual heat to melt the cheese into my pasta. And it is done.
I wanted to call this my Mac and Cheese, but as you can see from the picture, the cheese is not exactly visible. This is because there was too little cheese for too much of everything else. There was so little cheese in this dish that I feel it is too unreasonable to just call it Mac and Cheese. So I call this my [Mac and Cheese… and Bacon and Peas].
Mac and Fish:
The next day, I planned to have baked fish for dinner. But as I was preparing my ingredients, I looked at my new wok and thought that I should really use it more because it is such an awesome addition to my kitchen. So… I cut my tilapia fillet, mushrooms and tomato into pieces instead. I have marinated the fish with salt and pepper the night before.
The cooking process is more or less the same. I had earlier boiled the last of my macaroni and set it aside. Then, heat the wok with some olive oil, and added two spoonfuls of the vinaigrette that my mom gave me.
No, no, forget I said that. I did not add any vinaigrette into the wok. I threw the fish into the wok straight to sear it. Then I threw in the tomato, shrooms and peas in and cooked them for a few minutes. Then I added the pasta in and cooked for a few more minutes. Because there was no cheese this time, I added a bit more salt and a lot more pepper for seasoning. Also some of those lovely thyme.
And there you have it, my Mac and Fish. I’m not giving it a longer name because… mac and fish, mac and fish, rhymes with mac and cheese, sounds nice doesn’t it? 😉
If you have been reading instead of just picture staring, have you noticed how my procedure with cooking these two mac dishes to be following the 6 steps that I mentioned in the beginning of this post? That’s how Gennaro does it, and that’s how I will keep doing it.
And… I still don’t like thyme. I have not acquired the taste for it yet. Don’t know if I ever will…