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Category: Rice and Noodles (page 1 of 2)

I cooked my first plate of Pad Thai

When it comes to Thai food, I always rely on bottled pastes (McCormick used to make the best Thai green curry paste) and Nakhon Kitchen which is opposite my house. It has never crossed my mind to cook Thai food at home.

As the queue at Nakhon Kitchen gets ridiculously long (at all times), I decided it is time I learn more about Thai cuisine. I started with the simple and basic Pad Thai. Pad Thai is essentially a quick stir-fry rice noodles dish. When I was in university, I would buy those Pad Thai mix from the supermarket. I remembered the sauce was thick, dark and sticky. The finished product was a heavily sauced noodles.

A good Pad Thai should embody spiceness (chilli powder), sourness (tamarind), sweetness (palm sugar) and saltiness (fish sauce). The end result is a flavourful, substantial plate of noodles. I also did my research on Pad Thai, and realised everyone has their own version for the sauce, preparation of the noodles and so on. The first time I cooked Pad Thai, I felt it was lacking acidity. I made some adjustments and was quite happy with my second attempt. I am glad that Pad Thai has made it into my small repertoire of dishes that I know how to cook.

Pad Thai
(Adapted from David Thompson’s Thai Street Food)

Serves 2

Ingredients
1)      100g dried thin rice noodles (rice sticks)
2)      4 shallots, coarsely chopped with a pinch of salt
3)      2 eggs, cracked and whisked
4)      3 tablespoons vegetable oil or peanut oil
5)      ½ teaspoon chye poh, rinsed and dried (salted radish)
6)      100g firm beancurd, cut into small squares (I like to use Unicurd tau kwa that is specifically for tahu goreng)
7)      10 shelled prawns (optional; if you want to keep the dish vegetarian, omit them)
8)      A handful Chinese chives or ku chye (around 4 stalks), cut into 1” length
9)      A small handful cashew nuts, roasted, and coarsely chopped
10)   1 lime, cut into wedges (optional)
11)   Chilli powder (optional)

Sauce
1)      2 tablespoons brown sugar
2)      2 tablespoons tamarind water*
3)      1 tablespoon fish sauce (if you want to keep the dish vegetarian, use soya sauce)
4)      Dash of white vinegar
5)      1-2 tablespoons of water

Methods
-        In a large bowl, soak the dried rice noodles in cold water for about 15 minutes or until they have soften (make sure the noodles are completely covered in water).
-        While the noodles are soaking, you can start to prepare the sauce. In a small bowl, mix the sugar, tamarind water, vinegar, fish sauce (or soya sauce) and 1-2 tablespoons of water. Mix until the sugar has dissolved and taste. The sauce should be balanced. If need to, adjust the flavour accordingly – sweetness (sugar), saltiness (fish sauce/ soya sauce), and sourness (vinegar or tamarind water). Set aside.
-        Once the noodles starts to soften, bring a pot of water to boil.
-        Drain the noodles and add them in the pot of boiling water for less than a minute. The noodles should have firmness, and not mushy. Once cooked, drain the noodles and set aside. This will help to prevent the noodles from clumping when being stir-fried.
-        Place a wok over a medium heat. Add in the oil and let it heat up. Once the oil is heated, add in the shallots and fry them until they soften, coloured and develop fragrance. Once the shallots are soften, add in the prawns (if using).
-        Once the prawns are added, pour in the eggs. Like cooking an omelette, tilt the wok and using a spatula, push the egg inwards so that the egg that is seated inside will be moved and get cooked.
-        While the egg is still runny, increase the heat to medium-high, and add in the drained noodles. Fry for about 30 seconds and at the same time, break the eggs using the spatula. Add in the sauce, and fry the noodles to ensure the sauce is evenly distributed.
-        Once the sauce is absorbed by the noodles (it should take less than a minute), add in the beancurd, chye poh and ¾ of the cashew nuts, and continue to fry the noodles until it is almost dry. At that stage, add in the Chinese chye and fry for a few seconds.
-        To serve, divide the Pad Thai into 2 plates and garnish with the remainder cashew nuts, roasted chilli powder and lime wedges.

*To obtain tamarind water, you will need 2 tablespoons of tamarind pulp and 2 tablespoons of warm water. This should yield around 3 tablespoons of tamarind water. Before mixing the tamarind pulp in the water, rinse the pulp to remove any surface yeast. Once rinsed, mix the tamarind pulp with the water and let it soak for a few minutes. Once the pulp is soften, using a spoon, smash the pulp so that it dissolves in the water. Pass the mixture through a sift, and using the same spoon, squeeze out as much juice as possible. Don’t be terribly worried if the tamarind water is rather thick, you can easily dilute it with water. Any leftover tamarind water can be kept in an airtight container and place in the fridge for 2 days.

It’s Honey Boo Boo Day!

I am a huge fan of Alana Thompson aka Honey Boo Boo Child. For those who are unfamiliar with Alana, she is a 7-year old girl who lives in McIntyre, Georgia and loves to participate in beauty pageants. She was first featured in TLC’s Toddlers and Tiaras. And she was such a hit that TLC decided to do a spin-off called Here Comes Honey Boo Boo Child which features Alana’s everyday life and her family.

When I first watched snippets of this show, I was actually pretty annoyed by this family. They were so loud. And I just gave up watching. With the encouragement from friends (you can tell my standard for friends is pretty low), I persevere and I fall in love with this show. A little disclaimer here – not everyone will like the show. I have friends who are amazed such families exist. For me, the reason why I like the show is that Alana and her family look genuine. Their conversations, actions may seem weird but they sound and look real. Most importantly, there is no ridiculous drama in this family. They just cry, laugh, talk, smile and fart (I truly believe this is the first time I used the word “fart” in my blog).

A couple of months back, my friends and I organised a “Honey Boo Boo Day”. We were going to cook some food and do a Honey Boo Boo marathon. Since I would be bringing my dish over to my friend’s house and we were doing lunch, I needed something that was quick to cook, easy to assemble and portable without fuss and spill. I finally settled on Ottolenghi’s soba noodles with eggplant and mango (of course, nothing makes me happier than a visit to my mango man. He sells really good, dirt cheap mangoes at Tekka market. His honey mango is only S$1 each).

Before I served this dish to my friends, I must do a trial-run – to test and adjust the flavour, and get myself familiarise with the recipe. The flavour of this dish is unbelievably amazing. The first taste, it reminds me of yusheng – it is tangy, sweet and slightly spicy. It is so refreshing that when I reach the bottom of the mixing bowl (it is so good that I cannot be bothered to plate it), I can feel my stomach weeping.

Soba noodles with eggplant and mango
(Adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty)
You can make this dish two hours in advance. If you are bringing this to a friend’s house (like me), add ¾ of the dressing into the noodles. Once you have reached your friend’s place, and when you are about to serve the dish, add in the rest of the dressing. The noodles might stick together when resting in the fridge so the dressing helps to loosen them.

Serves 6

Dressing
1)      120ml or ½ cup rice vinegar
2)      1 teaspoon sesame seed oil
3)      3 tablespoon granulated sugar
4)      ½ teaspoon kosher salt (table salt is fine)
5)      2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
6)      1 fresh red chilli, deseed and finely chopped (if you and your friends love spice, leave the seeds in the chilli)
7)      Grated zest and juice of 1 lime

Methods
-        In a small saucepan, add in the rice vinegar, sugar and salt, and place it over a low heat. Using a spoon, gently stir the vinegar until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Once dissolved, remove the saucepan from the heat.
-        Pour the vinegar mix into a bowl (or the container that you might use if you are transporting this dish to a friend’s house), and add in the sesame seed oil, garlic and chopped red chilli.
-        Once the mix is cooled*, add in the lime zest and juice. If you add in the zest while the mix is warm, the heat will discolour it. Set aside.

Soba noodles with eggplant and mango
Ingredients
1)      2 small eggplants or 1 large eggplant, cut into ¾” dice
2)      1 large ripe mango, cut into ¾” dice (I used honey mango; the mango should be prepped last when you are about to assemble and mix the noodles. If you cut the mango too early, it might oxidise and turn brown)
3)      270g of dried soba noodles (the only reason why I used 270g of soba noodles is because mine came in 3 bundles of 90g. You can use less noodles but no more than 270g)
4)      A small bunch of coriander, chopped (set aside some for garnish)
5)      ½ red onion, very thinly sliced (if you want, you can use a mandolin. I was lazy and didn’t want to clean up so I just cut the onion very slowly and you should be able to achieve thin slices)
6)      2 tablespoon vegetable oil
7)      A tray of ice cubes
8)      Salt

Methods
-        Preheat the oven to 200oC. Place the diced eggplant on a baking tray, add in the vegetable oil, mix well and make sure they are coated with the oil. Place the baking tray in the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes or until they turned golden brown.
-        Once the eggplant is baked, place them in a colander and sprinkle generously with salt and leave them to drain.
-        In a medium-sized saucepan, fill it with water (enough to cook the noodles) and place it over a medium heat. Once the water starts to boil, add in a generous pinch of salt and the noodles. Cook the noodles as per instructed on the pack. Mine takes about 6-8 minutes. The cooked noodles should be soft yet with a bite.
-        While the noodles are cooking, remove the eggplant from the colander and place them in a large mixing bowl**. Using the same colander (there is no need for washing up), fill it with a tray of ice cubes. Set aside.
-        Once the noodles are cooked, drain (don’t use the colander, just drain from the saucepan) and rinse it with cold water. Drain again but this time, using the colander that is filled with ice. Mix the ice cubes and noodles – this is to prevent the noodles from sticking and stop further cooking. Set aside.
-        Once the noodles and eggplant are ready, you can slice and dice the mango.
-        To assemble, in the mixing  bowl (with the eggplant), add in a tablespoon of the dressing, follow by the mango (the vinegar and lime juice will prevent the oxidisation of the mango). Add in the rest of the ingredients – soba noodles (make sure to drain off any excess water), onion, coriander and the dressing (remember if this is to be served later, reserve some of the dressing). You can use two forks or like Mama June (Alana’s mother) who believes hands are the best utensil, mix it with your (clean) hands.
-        To finish, garnish with more coriander.
-        If you are bringing this dish to a party, just pour in the rest of the dressing, mix and garnish.

*While the vinegar mix is cooling, you can crack on the rest of the dish.
**I am an advocate of use-less-bowl. However I will not recommend assembling or mixing this dish in the container or serving platter that you are going to use. You need a big bowl or room for you to mix all the ingredients and dressing together. And trust me, this will be less messy too.

Instant noodles love

Instant noodles have played a huge part in my life. One of my favourites was Indo-Mie’s mi goreng. It was my go-to snack when I was studying late in the night. It was quick, easy and satisfying. When I was in university, I would buy a carton of the mi goreng from the Oriental shop and this would last me for months. Though I do cook from scratch, it always good to know you have “instant” food in the house especially when you were trapped, and trying to finish up a thesis.

With all the scary stories and health concerns regarding instant noodles, I have definitely cut down my consumption. However the recent horrid haze that Singapore experienced motivates me to eliminate instant noodles. In the month of June, Singapore was badly affected by Indonesia’s forest fire. The pollutant standard index was at its highest of 401. It was considered a health hazard to be outdoor and I was stuck in the house for a few days. The cause of the fire was to clear land for palm trees. Over the years, there has been a great demand for palm oil. A lot of things we used and consumed contained palm oil. Palm oil can be used to make a bar of soap to the seasoning oil found in instant noodles. As a step to reduce the demand for palm oil, I made the heart-breaking decision of not eating my favourite Mi Sedaap’s mi goreng (and any instant noodles).

However this does not mean I stop having “instant” food at home. I stockpile noodles and chicken stock in my freezer (suddenly I feel like a doomsday prepper). I particularly like Sakura’s la-mian which is fresh noodles and when cooked has a chewy texture. I have no shame in saying I am a fan of instant stock. There are really good quality packet stocks available in the supermarkets. It is a time and perhaps a money saver too.

To make this noodle soup better than any instant noodles, I pimp it up. I not just whacked in flavour into the soup, I added some shredded poached chicken and blanched asparagus, topped with coriander and fresh chillies. Paying homage to my favourite ramen stall, Marutama, I throw in a slice of lemon, giving the soup a kick of acid and balance.

Chicken-flavoured instant noodle soup
You do not need to use the list of ingredients that I have below. You can use whatever you can find in your fridge and pantry, adding your favourite food, making this noodle soup your own.

Serve 1

Ingredients
1)      90g fresh noodles (you can use la-mian, kway teow. If you only have dried noodles, you will need around 50g)
2)      100-125g skinless chicken breast
3)      ¼ cup of chopped asparagus (you can also use any of your favourite leafy vegetables)
4)      250ml (or 1 cup) of chicken stock
5)      1 tablespoon Chinese cooking wine (Hua Tiao)
6)      1 teaspoon soy sauce (optional)
7)      ½ teaspoon sesame seed oil
8)      Sliced fresh chillies (optional)
9)      A small handful of roughly chopped coriander (optional)
10)   1 lemon wedge
11)   Salt
12)   Water

Methods
-        Fill up half of a small saucepan with water and add in a pinch of salt and place it over a medium heat. Once the water starts to boil, standby a slotted spoon and add in the chopped asparagus. The asparagus only need to be blanched for a few seconds. Remove the asparagus with a slotted spoon and place them on a plate and set aside (there is no need to switch off the stove)
-        Using the same saucepan, add in the chicken breast and poach it for 5-8 minutes (depending on how thick the chicken breast is). You can also take out the chicken breast and cut into half to check if it is cooked. Once the chicken breast is cooked, remove it with a slotted spoon and place it on the same plate as the asparagus and let it cool. Set aside.
-        Remove the poaching liquid from the saucepan. Fill up half of a small saucepan with water and add in a pinch of salt and place it over a medium heat. Once the water starts to boil, add in the noodles and cook per instructed. I usually use fresh la-mian which takes about 3 minutes to cook. If you are using dried noodles, you might want to soak it in cold water for 10-15 minutes, and quickly blanch it in hot water for 1-2 minutes or until it is almost cooked. It is important not to overcook the noodles as they will be reheated later in the chicken broth. Once the noodles are cooked (it should still has a bite), drain it using a colander. Once the water is drained off, add in the sesame seed oil into the noodle and stir it around with a pair of chopsticks or a fork. The oil not just imparts fragrance but also prevents the noodles from sticking. Set aside.
-        Using the same saucepan (see this is a one pot chicken noodles soup too!), place it over a medium heat, add in the chicken broth. Once the broth starts to boil, add in the Chinese cooking wine and soy sauce (if using). At this stage, you can taste and adjust. If the broth is slightly salty, it is ok. You will notice that all the ingredients we have prepped earlier have barely any seasonings. They are purposely blanched to absorb and pair with a savoury broth. If you find it really salty, add in some water to dilute the broth. Once you are happy with the broth, you can off the heat.
-        Before assembling the chicken noodles soup, shred the cooked chicken breast with your hands or with a fork. You might also need to cut it into bite-sized pieces.
-        To assemble, pour the broth into the serving bowl. Add the noodles into the bowl, follow by the shredded chicken, asparagus, coriander, sliced chillies (if using) and a wedge of lemon.
-        I could have cooked everything in a pot but I chose to cook every ingredient separately as I think it produces a cleaner tasting (and looking) chicken noodles soup. If you really want to cook everything in a pot, the one thing I would suggest is to cook the noodles separately. This is especially important if you are cooking fresh noodles. The excess flour from the noodles might cloud the chicken broth and add a floury bitter taste.

Laksa pesto pasta

It all started with a comment on Facebook. I posted a picture of my breakfast and out of nowhere my good friend ABH commented “Laksa pasta”. Armed with a bunch of leftover laksa leaves from family lunch, it was a sign that I must make this dish.

Some of the ingredients

Since I had zero clue where to start, I know I can always rely on Google. I went through a few recipes and most required fish sauce which I don’t have it at home (and I ain’t going to buy a bottle just for this recipe). I decided to adapt the style of traditional Italian pesto, and use only five ingredients – laksa leaves, pine nuts, olive oil, salt and garlic.

My ah ma mortar and pestle

I unearthed my grandma’s ancient old mortar and pestle (It is really old. It was passed down from my grandma to Mdm Tan and now to me. Sort of.), and started pounding everything together.

Once the pesto was done, you just need to cook the pasta and mix everything up. There was no slaving over the stove, just a few good ingredients and a bit of strength. The result was a plate of creamy delicious pasta with a bit of local flavour.

Laksa pesto pasta

Laksa Pesto Pasta

(Serves two)

Laksa Pesto
Ingredients
1)      30g laksa leaves (stem removed) (1 cup)*
2)      20g pine nuts (1 ½ tablespoons)**
3)      Half a garlic clove
4)      2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
5)      Pinch of salt
6)      1 teaspoon of laksa paste (optional)

Methods
-        Lightly toast the pine nuts till pale brown. I like to toast pine nuts on the stove rather than oven as they burnt easily and I have better control over the stove.
-        Put the laksa leaves in the mortar together with a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil. The olive oil will help to break down the leaves and loosen the mixture.
-        Once the laksa leaves are almost paste like, put in the toasted pine nuts, salt and laksa paste.
-        Once everything is well blended, drizzle in the last tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and taste. Add in more salt if needed.
-        If you do not intend to use the laksa pesto on the day you made it (which I don’t understand why), put it in an airtight container and covered it with a thin layer of olive oil. This will help to prevent oxidation and maintain the freshness of the pesto. Put it in a fridge and use within 3 days.
-        If you do not have a mortar and pestle, you can use food processor or immersion blender.

Laksa Pesto Pasta
Ingredients
1)      Pasta of your choice – I prefer to use thick noodle pasta like tagliatelle or fettuccini. In this way the pesto can coat onto it.
2)      Laksa pesto
3)      A small handful of dried shrimp
4)      Pasta water (reserved before you drained the pasta).
5)      Coconut milk (optional)
6)      Prawns – de-shelled, de-veined
7)      Korean chilli powder (Gochutgaru) or crushed red pepper flakes
8)      Extra virgin olive oil
9)      Salt

Methods
-        Soak the dried shrimp in a small bowl of water for a minute. Once drained, chop them up with a knife or use the mortar and pestle to pound them.
-        Put a pot of water over the stove. Once boiled, add in the salt and pasta. Cook the pasta 1-2 minutes short of the packaging instructions. I personally don’t rely on the packaging instruction – I like to taste my food.
-        Once the pasta is cooked, reserved a cup of water and drained.
-        Using the same pot, drizzle in some olive oil. Once the oil is heated, put in the chopped dried shrimp.
-        After stir frying for 30 seconds, add in the laksa pesto, coconut milk and pasta water. Let it mix and simmer for a minute. At this point, you can taste the pesto and see if you need to add in more salt. I usually don’t as there is salt in the pesto and the pasta water.
-        Put in the shrimps and let it cook for 30 seconds. Add in the pasta, making sure that every strand is coated with the pesto. If the pasta seems a bit tight, add in a bit more of the pasta water.
-        To serve, drizzle a bit of olive oil and sprinkled some Korean chilli powder.
-        If you like to keep this vegetarian, omit the use of dried shrimps and prawns.
-        Beside shrimps, you can use chicken, fish, dried tofu, beancurd puff, bean sprouts and so on.

*If you get your laksa leaves from Cold Storage or Jason, it usually comes in the standard 50g pack which should yield 30g of leaves.
**Pine nuts are ridiculously expensive. If you are not willing to splurge, you can use unroasted unsalted cashew nuts instead.

Lunch = whatever you have in the kitchen

When it comes to lunch, I don’t usually plan what to cook. I often scavenge the bits of leftovers in the fridge or pantry. For this particular lunch, I made use of the remainder ingredients I had from some of my experimental dishes – ricotta, edamame beans, cheddar cheese and red sauce – I created a spectacular baked pasta.

I cooked the pasta (penne), red sauce and edamame beans together. I layered a baking dish with some of the cooked pasta, sprinkled some cheddar cheese and ricotta. I poured in the rest of the pasta, and added another sprinkle of mozzarella cheese and panko (Japanese bread crumbs). Put the dish under a grill for 5-10 minutes and I got myself lunch.

Not forgetting dessert – fresh strawberries.

Laksa

The thought of making laksa never really cross my mind. There is a stall near my home where they made a decent bowl of laksa. And the stall owner always catered to my needs – I only want prawns and beancurd puffs.

Laksa paste (S$2.90)

However during a recent trip to Chinatown market, I remembered Anthony the Spice Maker whom has supplied me mustard seeds when I couldn’t find them (now I realised there are tons at Mustafa). I also recalled Anthony sells different type of paste – curry paste, nasi lemak chilli paste and laksa paste.

My bowl of laksa

After a chat with Anthony on the cooking method, I bought a tub of laksa paste to try.  Anthony told me his laksa paste is freshly blend and no added preservatives hence it is to be used as soon as possible.

I have also decided to make my laksa a little bit healthier. I used a combination of low fat coconut milk (which is a lot thinner) and chicken broth for the soup. The result is a more drinkable laksa broth without making you feel sick or heavy. The best thing about making your own laksa – you can put in whatever ingredients you want.

Anthony the Spice Maker
Blk 335 Smith Street #B1-169 Chinatown Food Centre
+65-9117-7573

Lunar New Year’s leftover – wanton mee

Every year, without fail, there’s always leftover food or ingredients from Lunar New Year’s dinner. However unexpectedly, there was no additional broth. So armed with a box of CP shrimp wanton, tang orh (chrysanthemum garland) and yellow noodles, I made wanton mee.

For the sauce, I combined (vegetarian) oyster sauce, sesame seed oil, mirin and worcestershire sauce in a bowl. Next, I cooked the vegetables, shrimp wanton and noodles separately in a pot of boiling water. It is important to drain out as much water as you can from the ingredients – this would ensure you don’t end up with a “wet” wanton mee. To finish, you can sprinkle some spring onion, fried onion or green chilli.

As I used fresh wanton mee, the cooking process was pretty quick. I think it took me around 10 minutes to prepare a bowl of noodles. Now this is my kind of fast food.

Paprika tuna pasta

Since university, pasta has been part of my staple diet. And recently, my favourite is Paprika Tuna Pasta. This is like one of the quickest meals anyone can prepare. All you need is canned tuna, paprika and pasta (preferably fusilli). If you can be bothered to chop some garlic, please do so.

Everything you need to make Paprika Tuna Pasta

Paprika Tuna Pasta

Thanks to my lovely Hungarian friend, Betti who bestowed me her country’s famed paprika – I now do not think I can use any paprika other than the ones from Hungary. Beside the powdered paprika, Betti also gave me some dried paprika which was plucked from her mother’s garden, and those really packed a punch when added in the pasta*.

Now I would make sure my pantry is stocked with pasta and tuna. As for paprika, Betti will ensure I am well-stocked.

*If you are unable to get hold of dried paprika, you can use dried chilli pepper/ flakes.

A big bowl of comfort (and leftovers)

the great thing about organising a dinner party is the leftovers. i was left with vegetables, mushroom, corns, seafood, and not forgetting the yummy broth for the steamboat. the next day, i boiled the broth, dump in all the ingredients, add some udon noodles. and i got myself a big bowl of comfort! happiness.

slurp!

Tomato and sausage pasta

as my office will be moving from the east to the west thus the chances of me working from home are pretty high. unlike some of my friends, i don’t really enjoy working from home. the temptation of the bed, refusal to change out of pjs and most important of all, missing out on the social interaction with colleagues. the only great thing about working from home? – i can cook and bake any time i like.

when it comes to lunch, i usually prepare no-fuss food – ingredients that i can find in the fridge) dumped in a pot and viola. yes i love one-pot cooking.

one pot wonder

one of my favorite things to cook – pasta! seriously what is not to love about pasta. firstly its CARBO (=comfort food), easy to prepare (hot water + salt) and you can throw in whatever things you like, and no one will judge you (ok maybe the italians will. ha). my all time-favorite classic (in my oink dictionary) is tomato and sausage.

tomato and sausage pasta

ingredients (the portion is for 1 serving only)
1)      1 garlic clove (chopped)
2)      1 white onion (diced and chopped)
3)      1 tomato (diced; i do keep the pulp and seed and i definitely don’t see the need to skin the tomato)
4)      1 sausage link  (i used turkey but you can use whatever meat you like; sliced)
5)      1 cup of dried pasta (i love barilla farfalle and also because i need to finish up the last of my pasta before they expired)
6)      passata (i have no qualms in using store bought pasta sauce but please give passata a try. i find the flavor is richer and tasted less artificial. if you can get passata made from san marzano tomatoes, you scored big time! i didnt manage to find it. sadness)
7)      fresh basil leaves (this is not essential. no one will die if you don’t have it. i just happened to grow some on my balcony)
8)      salt and black pepper to taste (depending on the sausage you used, some are already packed with spices thus you can omit the black pepper)
9)      extra virgin olive oil (once again not essential. use whatever you have at home though you should try use evoo. you will love the fruity taste)

methods
-        boil a pot of water enough to cover the pasta. once boiled, add in salt and throw in the pasta. based on the packaging, drained the pasta 1-1.5 minutes before the actual cooked time (that is, if the packaging said 8 minutes cooking time, off the fire after 6-7 minutes). alternatuvely TRY the pasta. remember we do not need the pasta to be thoroughly cooked; we are leaving it aside for awhile so it will cook itself.
-        as you drain the pasta, keep a bowl of the pasta water. set the pasta aside on your serving plate.
-        using the same pot (no need to wash), fire up, once the water evaporated, add in evoo. and you can start throwing in the garlic and onion. 30 seconds later, throw in the sausage to brown.
-        after the sausage has browned on one side, throw in the diced tomatoes. after a minute, add in the passata (i dont use alot; perhaps around 2-3 tablespoons). at this point, add in the pasta water that was saved earlier (once again you do not need alot; 3 tablespoons)
-        toss in the cooked pasta. stirred. you can add in more pasta water if you find the pasta to be too dry.
-        taste the sauce and add in salt and pepper if need to (i will add salt at this stage because i am quite heavy handed with salt when boiling the pasta thus i sometimes omit salt completely)
-        dish up and garnish with fresh basil leaves (if you have parmesan or pecorino, go ahead and use it. i would. ha.)

tomato and sausage pasta

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