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Craig Camp

All About Pasta

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While in NYC last year I found a fantastic Pasta Shop in Little Italy called Piemonte Ravioli Co. on 190 Grand Street. (Tel 212 226 0475).

They make many types of dried pasta including Ziti, Fettuccine, Farfelle, Marcaroni.

Apart from Pasta from Italia this is the best dried pasta I've found.

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De Cecco, Voiello, and Barilla's "Selezione Oro Chef" range. Of the artisinal stuff, Latini.

Edit: whoops, someone already mentioned Latini. That'll teach me to scan read.


Edited by Kikujiro (log)

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I'm more picky about some pasta shapes than others. For short pastas, which for me means penne rigate more often than not (I am a penne rigate fiend) I like Trader Joe's cheap house brand. It's definitely American-style, though, thinner than the De Cecco and more like Ronzoni. The ways I usually cook it (with vodka sauce or with tomato sauce and spicy Italian sausage) are awfully American in their own right.

For long shapes, I've liked Rustichella ever since I first used their bucatini for bucatini all'amatriciana.

Last time I was at Whole Foods they had a new artisan-looking brand in paper bags for a surprisingly low price, somewhere around $2 or $2.50. I tried some and it was quite good, but now I don't remember the name. I'll check next time I'm there.

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Is that true???

I heard a friend say this... I was not sure how true this is..

I have heard the same, and actually tasted the results of this in regards to sea food... but for pasta??? :rolleyes:

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true! also goes for potatoes.

Is this a legend I should have known?

Do most home cooks in Italy add much too much salt into the pasta water to make it as salty as the sea?

Or is it just a euphemism??

I am told it brings out the flavor of the pasta, is that true?

I love doing this with potatoes... in fact, I do it to my potatoes when making potato chips at home. At one point, Fat Guy had wanted to have me do a piece about this... In India, we always add a lot of salt into potatoes we are frying for chips or other snacks, it adds salt into the potatoes, so very little if any needs to be added later.

Please help me with my brine-ey dilemna. :rolleyes:

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Is this a legend I should have known?

Please help me with my brine-ey dilemna. :rolleyes:

The Art of Salting a Dish (click here for full story)

"Comrades, who can tell me what is the most difficult thing about cooking?"

The audience's interest was aroused, and they began to make guesses.

"Choosing the ingredients."

"Chopping."

"The actual cooking."

Zhu shook his head. "No, you're all wrong. It's the simplest yet the most difficult thing to do-the adding of salt."

Edit to cite: from Lu Wenfu's The Gourmet and other stories of modern China


Edited by The Camille (log)

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Isn't there some insult regarding cooks that has something to do with them not salting the pasta water enough? Something about saying the pasta wasn't salty enough means they're really bad cooks. My grandfather told me about it, but I've spaced out on the exact details.

regards,

trillium

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My mother (and many others obviously) believe one must salt the water when cooking pasta. However, (sorry Mom) I rather adjust for salt in my sauce. In addition, grating cheese, especially pecorino romano adds a pleasant briny, salty edge that our household enjoys.

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Oh, I forgot, but I also believe that salting the pasta water is an old peasant trick in order to flavor a inexpensive

pasta product. I rarely saw salt added to the pasta water when I worked in restaurant kitchens in Italy, especially when they cooked fresh pasta.

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Tunina,

As salting water is the conventional wisdom this is a very interesting concept. I agree with you that salting the water for fresh pasta as compared to dried pasta is a totally different concept, but I find that heavily salting the water for dried pasta seems to bring it alive. This is especially true if adding relatively light amounts of sauce in the Italian style. As far as cheese goes, how does that work if you are having a seafood or porcini sauce where cheese would not usually be used?

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Contrary to Italian wisdom and to what many in the know even in the US understand, Americans do add cheese EVEN to pasta with seafood. :rolleyes:

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Gentlemen,

I agree that Italians never add cheese to seafood pasta dishes, however it is true, Americans seem to love grated cheese with seafood pasta. And even with using a smaller amount of sauce with pasta, and with or without cheese, I still prefer not to salt the water. I find that cooking the pasta in the water to a very "al dente" stage, straining it and cooking the pasta with the sauce, i.e., marrying the two together, the pasta absorbes the sauce and is flavored and brought alive, as you say, by the sauce and the bit of starch left in the pasta as it cooks further. I also find that I use less sauce with this method.

Honestly, to the people I know who cook and love to eat pasta, it is really a matter of personal taste. The "do salts" certainly have the decision, but you might want to try it without and see what you like best. After all, isn't that the most important thing? :smile:

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Gentlemen

We appreciate the compliment - even if undeserved. Have you seen some of the other threads!

I will give it try and report back. Thanks for the idea.

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We appreciate the compliment - even if undeserved. Have you seen some of the other threads!

To that Craig I suggest: take it while you can still get it!

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Contrary to Italian wisdom and to what many in the know even in the US understand, Americans do add cheese EVEN to pasta with seafood. :rolleyes:

Some Americans, not all. :smile:


Edited by Liza (log)

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Contrary to Italian wisdom and to what many in the know even in the US understand, Americans do add cheese EVEN to pasta with seafood. :rolleyes:

Some Americans, not all. :smile:

Again:

Contrary to Italian wisdom and to what many in the know even in the US understand, Americans do add cheese EVEN to pasta with seafood. :rolleyes:

:smile:


Edited by Suvir Saran (log)

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Some say 'as salty as the Mediterranean'. At 40 grams per litre of fresh water, this seems excessive to me. Those using this strength for green vegetables are generally refreshing in fresh water afterwards.

Another recommendation is 10 grams per litre. This is enough water for 100 grams of pasta, by the way.

It is possible to dissolve 562 grams of salt in a litre of fresh water. Slightly more when hot.

ie. A saturated solution is 360 grams per kilo.

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Is that true???

I heard a friend say this... I was not sure how true this is..

I have heard the same, and actually tasted the results of this in regards to sea food... but for pasta???  :rolleyes:

Yes it should be salty and we do use "salty as the sea" as a reference but of course it really isn't that salty. I throw in about a handful (2 heaping tablespoon fulls) of rock salt to my 4 quart pot.

I have never worked in a restaurant here (Italy) or seen one where they did not salt the water by the way. And to be quite honest I would have sent back the pasta if it was not cooked with enough salt and wouldn't return as it would mean they weren't into putting out good food. There is a difference.

Another thing is to not add too much salt to your sauce as when you marry the sauce and the pasta together you also should add a ladel or so of the pasta cooking water which will have salt in it.

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It seems to me that - after much experimentation - pasta cooked in unsalted water will leach the salt from the sauce or condiment, ruining any careful seasoning you had going.

Try it.

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It seems to me that - after much experimentation - pasta cooked in unsalted water will leach the salt from the sauce or condiment, ruining any careful seasoning you had going.

Try it.

You may believe so but try that with any Italian and they will tell you the pasta is sciocco (needs salt), even if the sauce is salty enough. It really does make a difference in the final product.

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Siena Us

I'm agreeing with you.

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By the way, sea water is really, REALLY salty. I harvested some once for a salt-making project. It's like brine, not like broth.

I personally add enough salt to make the water taste as salty as a broth.

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Tunina,

As salting water is the conventional wisdom this is a very interesting concept. I agree with you that salting the water for fresh pasta as compared to dried pasta is a totally different concept, but I find that heavily salting the water for dried pasta seems to bring it alive. This is especially true if adding relatively light amounts of sauce in the Italian style.

Craig, I agree with you, I salt the water heavily with the dried or boxed pasta. When I make homemade, I will salt but not nearly as heavy as the dried.

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Moby P,

Sorry about that, I guess I should know better to read before the caffeine has hit my system :biggrin:

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