Classic Dishes Around the World: Every Which Way to Enjoy Pasta
From Italy to Argentina, we're exploring the globe's love of pasta
Classic Dishes Around the World is our brand new collaboration with Zwilling. Over the course of a year, we will explore the relationship between global food cultures in 6 dishes to highlight the foods and flavors that bring us together and make our Culinary World more exciting. The dialogue between food cultures worldwide is a source of great inspiration—our goal is to showcase similarities and encourage our ever-more connected world to keep sharing, learning, and adapting the global food landscape.
Where exactly do I start—and perhaps more importantly, stop—when it comes to pasta and noodles? Which three dishes should we cover of the infinite variety from all over the world? It seemed an impossible ask—to pick just three. Nevertheless, I tried to make my way through the culinary jungle and I ended up with three recipes that I'm certain my colleagues and I could eat a million times over. Let's get right in and start our journey with a side trip to China for very hot and very tasty biang biang noodles.
Biang biang mian (Chinese spicy noodles)
For those who love homemade noodles and spicy sauces, this dish is just right. It can be cooked, with a few exceptions, from ingredients that you will probably already find in your pantry: flour, chili flakes, soy sauce, and peanut oil, just to name a few. Usually, the noodles are freshly prepared: The simple dough of flour, water and salt is quickly mixed and kneaded, formed into small rolls, then pulled apart with both hands and at the same time beaten onto the worktop in flowing, gluten-forming movements. The sound that is produced during this process leads to the onomatopoeic name of the pasta: biang biang. In the video that accompanies our recipe, we'll show you how to give these special Chinese noodles their typical shape.
However fun it is to make these homemade noodles, you can also keep this recipe even simpler and use store-bought noodles instead of homemade. The chili oil and the spiced soy sauce can also be modified. Although I am usually always in favor of individual variations on recipes, I recommend that you stick to the quantities specified in the recipe when preparing this dish. Our recipe gives you an extra portion of homemade chili oil and more spicy soy sauce than just two portions, which you can then use with other dishes. Your future self will certainly thank you for it.
Pasta alla gricia (Pasta with Pecorino and guanciale)
Two ingredients are crucial for this Italian pasta classic. It consists of only a few ingredients, but they have so much flavor: guanciale and pecorino. Guanciale is an unsmoked air-dried bacon usually made from pork cheek, and pecorino is an Italian cheese originally made from pure sheep's milk. Both are very salty, which is why the rule "pasta water must taste like sea water" does not apply to this recipe. Instead, it is better to keep a check on the salting and eventually put some more salt to the dish when served.
Just like pasta carbonara, amatriciana, or cacio e pepe, pasta alla gricia comes from the Romanesque kitchen. All together they use few, but selected high quality ingredients. All of them are mercilessly underestimated and deserve to be prepared with the original ingredients. In the case of pasta alla gricia these are the aforementioned rigatoni, guanciale, and pecorino. If you want, you can skip the last step of our version, where the pasta is baked to a crisp in the oven. Buon appetito!
Ñoquis with a simple tomato sauce (Argentinian gnocchi)
Who doesn't know the small soft potato pillows from Italy? This Argentinean variant has its origin there: It is said that Italian immigrants brought the recipe for ñoquis de papa (potato gnocchi) together with homemade pizza and pasta to Argentina in the 19th century. In the past, gnocchi or ñoquis, were prepared there on the 29th of each month from leftover potatoes and flour—just before payday, when money was tight. Some have preserved this tradition through today, although they are no longer eaten out of necessity, they are considered lucky. Plus, they're so simple and easy to make at home.
Because this dish doesn't need much, we'll keep the sauce simple: whole peeled canned tomatoes, olive oil, one peeled but whole onion. Marcella Hazan, who inspired this recipe, uses a lot of butter instead of olive oil and had the winning recipe in our tomato sauce competition.
Never made homemade pasta?
It seems complicated, but it's not. Start with the basic dough (300 g / 2.5 cups flour, 3 eggs), mix the ingredients, and knead until smooth and elastic. Even if it doesn't feel right, let it rest. Pasta dough is actually very forgiving. Then roll it out thinly—with a pasta machine, a rolling pin or, if necessary, a wine bottle—and cut it into thin strips for tagliatelle. Now you can put them directly into hot boiling salted water. 2 – 3 minutes and it's ready for your favorite pesto or a simple tomato sauce. Your first feeling of success–and off you go to colorful pasta dough and other pasta shapes!
Published on September 12, 2020