Monday, April 30, 2018

Crispy Leftover Pasta

I've been trying to achieve brown crispy highlights in leftover pasta for a very long time (my inspiration is Sicilian fried ziti, another nearly-obsolete food I yearn for).

It's been frustrating. Part of the problem is that my people do not traffic in crunch. Another is that I try to eat healthy, so I really don't do pans full of oil - and it's damned hard to produce crispness without sizzling oil.

My friend Paul suggested using a wok. I bought one, and while I've managed to make some damned good beef chow fun...



...I found that I could stir-fry pasta till the cows get home, but the combination of my low-b.t.u. stove and my pesky oil aversion leads to scorching, not crisping.

As I've previously mentioned, I tried Blue Apron for a few weeks, mostly to try to break out of old cooking habits. And one of their techniques is to add an ingredient to a hot pan and leave it there a good while without fiddling with it. That's how they recommend doing shisito peppers, for example, and it does work like a charm.

So here's what I just did:

1. Rubbed a skillet lightly with an oily paper towel.
2. Heated pan to medium and waited till it was fully heated (a minute or two longer than I ordinarily wait).
3. Dumped leftover salmon pasta and spread it out evenly.
4. Left the room (something I normally never do while cooking).
5. Flipped pan contents with spatula. Then performed Frank's Water Trick (added a TBS water and quickly, tightly covered pan and reduced heat).
6. I happened to toss in some leftover chopped kale at the end. 
7. Wait 2 minutes and serve.

And look!




Here, FYI, is how I originally prepared the salmon pasta. I stir-fried slices of wild Alaskan salmon carelessly in a wok along with finely sliced garlic. Then added chopped leftover broccolini and very coarsely-chopped tomatoes (my wok's well-seasoned so the acid won't react). Finally added - big secret ingredient! - chopped pea shoots, cooking only a minute or two past that addition.

Meanwhile, I boiled Trader Joe's fancy "Gigli" pasta, saving a couple tablespoons of cooking water. I returned drained pasta to pot and added a generous amount of extra virgin olive oil (healthy oil, not degraded by cooking heat), some grated cheese, and chili flakes (I like Penzey's Aleppo Peppers). I stirred the pasta like a madman, gradually added salmon mixture, and stirred more (I kept the burner on low-medium while stirring, but cut heat immediately thereafter). Then serve. It was good.


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