Sunday, May 25, 2008

Ingredients to the Mystery Pasta

Ingredients to the fusion pasta
Here, as promised, are the ingredients to yesterday's pasta! You guys are good at reverse-engineering ingredient analysis! Indeed it is "hae bee hiam" (spicy dried shrimp floss sambal) tortiglioni with baby spinach. I also added some furikake and tsuyu for flavouring.

Some of you guessed prawn rigatoni with crustacean oil - and yes, that is how this dish was partly inspired. I'm sure you may have seen the many photos and raving reviews of the "Rigatoni Pasta Tossed in Crustacean Oil, Shaved Bottarga, Tiger Prawns, Seaweed and Arugula Salad" by Chef Anderson Ho.

Since I have never been to his now-defunct restaurant Le Papillon, I don't know what it tastes like. But looking at his ingredients (seaweed, crustaceans, bottarga), I suspect his creation scores quite high on the umami factor. So I thought it would be fun to experiment with umami ingredients.

I decided to make mine a hae bee hiam pasta with "crustacean oil" (from frying shrimp shells in oil), seaweed and tobiko instead of bottarga. How lovely the pasta would look bejewelled with bright little orange spheres, I thought. But no one else in the family would eat fish roe, so no go for tobiko, no matter how pretty it would look.

In the end, the dish looked nice but failed in the taste department (for me anyway). I think I took too many shortcuts. The bottled hae bee hiam did not taste as good as fresh homemade ones (of course). I also severely underestimated the seasoning required for this thick but hollow pasta. Although al dente, it tasted somewhat floury in the centre. Next time I think I will boil it in dashi!

If you are still curious, here's how I made it (approximate amounts used). I am a bit reluctant to post this recipe-in-progress as it needs some serious tweaking. Try this only at your own risk!

250-300g pasta (enough for 3-4 persons)
about 12 tiger prawns
about 1 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon "hae bee hiam" - should have used at least 3 tablespoons!
2 tablespoons tsuyu - needed more
sprinkling of furikake

1. Boil pasta in salted boiling water
2. Shell, clean and devein prawns. Clean the shells too!
3. Heat oil in wok and fry the prawn shells for about 5 mins to extract all that seafoody goodness
4. Remove shells and add "hae bee hiam" to the oil, fry until fragrant
5. Add prawns and fry lightly until just cooked - next time I will just blanch the prawns briefly in the pasta's boiling water, for better texture
6. Turn off fire, add tsuyu and furikake to taste.
7. Drain pasta and toss in seafood mixture.
8. Garnish with baby spinach leaves (we used this instead since everyone in my family dislikes rocket)


  1. oh Cam, now would you give this home creation a name? looks so good!

    If I'm not wrong, there's a new hae bee hiam pasta at Wild Rocket now too! :)

  2. Yay I got Barilla Tortiglioni right! Wow hae bee hiam sounds yummy! Actually I was thinking if someone would come up with something like chilli crab pasta already. (:

  3. It looks really good. Pity taste-wise, it didn't live up to your expectations. Try again :)

  4. sorry for the double comment! I commented as xin yan in previous post (first comment) and as XY... lol :p

  5. hahaha, the magical of DSLR! lol! look nice but doesn't taste nice : )

  6. Woah, hae bee hiam pasta sounds so delicious. We are now crazy over furikake on plain rice, never thought of adding them to my pasta.

  7. I think you need to make the flavour stronger. Either by frying your own hae bee hiam or using (like you said) at least 3 tbsps! (:

  8. Reverse-engineering ingredient analysis? Wah... pandai-nye the readers. What is furikake and tsuyu though? Never heard of them before...

  9. Ice: Prawn tortiglioni with shrimp floss sambal, seaweed and sesame seeds? Hae bee hiam pasta can already la. Wah Wild Rocket now also got! I haven't even been there to try their laksa pesto pasta.

    XY: hmm, chili crab pasta! Why don't you try it and tell us about it?

    Breadcrumbs: ah well, probably my own fault overfantasizing about how good it SHOULD taste.

    XY: yes, it's ok, I knew it was you.

    LIC: haha, nothing to do with teh DSLR lah. this phenomenon has existed long before cameras were here - it's called "ho kua bo ho chiak!".

    Didally: I love furikake too! But actually it may have clashed with the flavour of the hae bee hiam!

    Prettymoody: thanks!

    XY: yeah I was just too timid with the seasoning.

    Kenny: Furikake is Japanese dry seasoning, often consisting of seaweed, dried fish like katsuo (tuna) or salmon, sesame seeds etc. Tsuyu is flavoured soy broth/sauce, often used as dipping sauce for noodles.

    Ya they all so pandai! It's my first time cooking this kind of pasta some more. Tortiglioni. I can barely spell it!

  10. Thanks for the explanation, dear. Will look out for these ingredients. And don't they say having clever readers is actually a compliment to your own writing? ;)

    Unfortunately I'm one of your less culinarily-educated ones.... that just means I get to learn MORE! :D

  11. Hmmm japanese-italian fusion from the ingredients. :-)

    We seem to have run out of hae bee hiam. Time to give mum a call and order supplies. LOL...

    Hmm. another veg that you don't like? Rockets :-) Family = you only or really the whole family. hehe...

  12. Kenny: Clever readers as a compliment to writing? Thanks! I never thought of it that way!

    K-man: lol can I put in an order too? need better hae bee hiam!!!

    Haha, this time it's my family that doesn't like rocket. I can eat it but not superfond of it either la. Hey I'm not a vege-hater, OK? :P


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