Thursday, September 2, 2010

Pasta with Smoked Salmon: a totally different recipe and success guaranteed !

Fettucine with Smoke Salmon in Cream SauceImage by nadi0 via Flickr
Most pasta recipes with smoke salmon use a cream sauce to which you add the chopped salmon. Results are often hugely disappointing. All too often, the cream sauce clogs up when the pasta cools, and as you finish your plate, you find it all sticky and gummy.

Not too surprising.

Any pasta sauce that is cream-based is guaranteed to cool off very, very fast! Another problem is with the smoked salmon itself: it is very delicate and difficult to manipulate. It doesn't suffer any heating without losing all its colour and flavour - so if you try to keep your cream sauce warm so that it remains nice and liquid, this will have the unwanted effect of turning your salmon from pink to an unappetizing white shade. It will have a flaky texture and a flat taste. In short, a disaster!

Here's a way to accomodate pasta with smoked salmon WITHOUT running into all these problems. It has a nice salmony taste and never becomes sticky when it cools down. It is in fact just as good at room temperature, so that you can easily use this recipe when you are making a buffet for friends and have to cook in advance and leave the dish standing on the table for half-an-hour or more.

Ingredients: quantities given here are for 4 persons.

- Any kind of pasta will do: fettuccine, pappardelle, penne, farfalle...Follow directions on your package and assume you'll need to cook 80 g of pasta per male guest and 50 g per female guest (I mean the dry pasta - for the fresh variety, raise the amount to 120g and 80 g respectively) 
-   One cup1/2 of ripe, red, fresh tomatoes, peeled and chopped fine
-   2 tablespoons of butter
-   1 tablespoon olive oil
-   1 tablespoon grated bottarga or if you can't find it, use powdered fish broth (for example Knorr's fish broth is excellent)
-   1/2 cup (or more, to taste) of fresh, roughly chopped rucola
-   a small glass of Vodka
-   smoked salmon: 200g chopped
-   abundant pepper 


The thing to remember - it's crucial - is to set aside your chopped salmon and add it to the pasta only AFTER you've mixed the pasta in the sauce and the dish has had a chance to cool down.

The first thing to do, apart from setting your water boiling as soon as you walk in the kitchen, is to start preparing the pasta sauce. It is super-easy and requires no cooking (except for peeling the tomatoes by dropping them for a minute in boiling water - in fact, I always use the water in which I cook the pasta for peeling my tomatoes, saves on pots to clean!)

You melt the butter and put all the ingredients in a serving dish and let it sit there while the pasta cooks. Neither the rucola nor the tomatoes need any cooking. Indeed, the tomatoes should be chopped as fine as you can make them, and dropped into the sauce together with their juice. In case you're wondering why I suggest adding olive oil since I've started with butter, it is simply because it ensures a creamier texture, as the oil prevents the butter of going hard on you when it cools.

Then, when the pasta is cooked (and you've set aside in a cup some of the cooking water in case you need it), you simply turn it into your sauce. If it looks dry, just add some of the water in which the pasta has cooked, nothing else and certainly not olive oil or butter. There's no need for additional grease, it would only cover up the taste! When it looks well coated and slighlty liquid at the bottom, turn in the chopped salmon and serve. Btw, with this kind of dish there's no need for Parmigiano cheese.

But do have white wine with it and let me know how you like it!

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