For the love of tomato

11 05 2013
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With tomatoes, garlic and basil, I’m always halfway to a satisfying pasta.

THE TOMATOES are not San Marzano, the kind ripened by the kisses of the Neapolitan sun.  They’re not even the more accessible Roma.  They’re from Malaysia by way of Cold Storage.

Except for Bertolli that originates from Lombardy, none of my store cupboard essentials for my fail–safe pasta boasts of direct Italian provenance.  The garlic is from China and is packed clustered in bulbs of a few cloves each, ready to be thrown in to bak kut teh (pork ribs soup).  The cayenne pepper is a Kiwi.  The basil leaves – bunches of heady perfume – come proudly from Malaysia too.  While suspiciously named after a Catholic saint, the angel hair pasta hails from Down Under.  The grated parmesan cheese, as if snow falling on cedars, trickle down on to the pasta all the way from the States.

The coarse salt I use to make the pasta water as salty as the Mediterranean and the sauce tasty and balanced is Kosher, from Chicago, and is endorsed by one of my favorite chefs, Rocco DiSpirito.  Oh, there’s at least one more Italian connection after all.

I’ve been fixing myself a huge bowl of my angel hair pomodoro for about five nights in a row now.  And I don’t see the craving letting up any time soon.  I’ve been in dire need of comfort that only it can provide.

The byproduct – the study in globalization that makes it to my heavy bottom skillet just before I toss the finished dish on to my shallow bowl – never ceases to amuse me with its apparent depth.

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In the middle of the night, I would suddenly have the urge to make this pasta. Whenever I’ve run out of supplies, I can just walk to the nearest Cold Storage. If it would be past 10:00 PM, I’d go to Fair Price Xtra.

 

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It’s quite important to wash your fresh produce well. As you can see, I just throw everything in my trusty IKEA strainer and wash away. I rub the skins of the tomatoes pretty vigorously while singing. Hahaha.

 

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The thing about making pasta is that with experience, you shall never be under the tyranny of the recipe. On a whim, I count three or four tomatoes to go to the making of my sauce. No hard and fast rules.

 

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I’ve espoused blanching the tomatoes first, then peeling off the skin and de-seeding them before they are used. But sometimes, a rough dice, with skins and all, doesn’t hurt.

 

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For this meal in minutes, a rough dice would do just fine. The flavor of Malaysian tomatoes does not come close to San Marzano or even Roma, but what it lacks in that department (“flavor” in the context of Italian sauce) it more than makes up for with it meaty flesh.

 

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Making this five nights in a row would surely put a dent on my extra virgin olive oil stash. Here I am, finishing yet again another 500-mL bottle. Fortunately for me though, when Kuya Michele left Singapore at the end of his months-long assignment, he handed down to me ALL his remaining grocery items. There were bottles upon bottles of this golden green culinary jewel of an oil.

 

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The sauce starts with extra virgin olive oil, garlic and cayenne pepper every single time.

 

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Making this is always a two-burner affair. You make the sauce as you boil the pasta away – always 30 seconds less than what the box or package tells you. It’s because I always tip the cook pasta over into the sauce. And they always finish about the same time.

 

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Nothing splatters likes tomatoes. You shall know this once the roughly diced fruit hits the hot oil.

 

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The moment the angel hair is done – in all of one and a half minutes only – I tear the basil leaves on the bubbling sauce. I tumble the pasta on to this and I’m ready to eat.

 

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What I take to my mouth with every bite is a shameless amount. Haha! No wonder that a pound ogf dry pasta lasts me only three servings.

 

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On some nights, I’m so hungry that I see the extra step of plating to be such unbearable delay. So I eat straight from the pan. Anyway, I never would share this. Hahaha!

Copyright © 2013 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved

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