Sunday, May 25, 2008
Ingredients to the Mystery 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)
Posted 12:40 PM