Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Seafood Pasta

We like pasta very much and we used to cook pasta very often at home. Pasta is actually kind of fast food here in Germany or maybe the whole Europe. Just like noodle back home in Malaysia, one may cook a packet of "Maggi mee" (it is synonym for all instant noodles in Malaysia) for a fast and warm meal. I do believe the theory that the pasta is related to Chinese noodle and was brought by Marco Polo to the west from China. Or at least he did introduce the Chinese noodle making skills into Italy and the pasta evolved into today's form. Anyway, pastas are cooked in different ways here, in Germany one cooks the pasta and sauce separately and at the end one just scopes the sauce onto the plate of pasta. For me, this is the lazy man way of preparing pasta. In Italy, one mixes the pasta into the sauce in the pan before serving. I can still remember the time we had pasta in Rom some years ago. We ordered two portions, one Spaghetti Bolognese and could not remember exactly the other one, but definitely pasta with white sauce. The portions were so huge that we both could only finish one portion and left almost the other half untouched. The pasta was prepared in a very simple manner, like the Bolognese, just pasta and meat sauce. Nothing more, nothing less. As I said, European fast food.

For me, the most important part of preparing a good bowl of paste is the sauce, either tomato sauce or white sauce. What you add to the sauce later is just a manner of taste, minced meat, seafood, veges or bacon. We used to cook the sauce with those ready mix stuffs. The worst are those in powder form with lots of artificial colorings and flavorings. Better are those from bottles, somehow fresh ones, like tomato sauce with cottage cheese or herbs. These are of course more expensive, a decent one will cost you around 2-3 Euros per bottle for 2 servings.

We try to keep away from these ready products and instead make the sauce ourself. Actually, it is very simple. The tomato sauce is somehow similar to the one we used earlier in making tomato soup or chili con carne, but a bit thicker (just use more tomatoes and less water). After cooking the tomatoes with garlic and onions for a while, just blend everything together in a mixer to form a smooth and thick paste. This is our simple recipe of making the sauce:

1 clove of garlic
one onion
5 big ripe juicy tomatoes
chicken stock (or just water if you don't have any), not too much or else the sauce will become watery
pepper and salt to taste
herbs (we used those combined herbs for pizza with everything)
one chili (up to you, we like it a bit spicy)

Among all different kinds of pastas, we like seafood pasta the most. Although we cook Bolognese the most since it is the simplest. We cooked today for dinner seafood pasta with schrimps, squids and salmons. Instead of using chicken stock or water for the sauce, we fried the shells and the heads of the prawns and boiled them to made kind of prawn soup. This method is very similar to the one of boiling the broth for "prawn mee". I always find it very wasteful throwing the heads and shells of the prawns away as the most aroma is found in here especially the heads. We fried the salmons, prawns separately and boiled the squids for a while before adding them into the sauce. This is a must as squids release lots of juices when cooking and it dilutes the sauce if put raw directly into it. Moreover, it will also cause the sauce to taste very fishy. At the end, just combine the seafoods and cooked pasta (we used the classical spaghetti) into the sauce and that's it. One should never overcooked the pasta, it should be Al-dente (firm but not hard). Else the pasta will taste very muchy.

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