Pasta alla Carbonara is one of my favourite fall-back meals when there is nothing else to cook. All you really need is some dried pasta, cured pork, cheese and an egg to pull off a delightfully rich and satisfying meal. In Japan, パスタ カルボナラ has become a staple of corner cafes and can even be found on the menu at Denny’s.
Perhaps the biggest difference with Japanese Pasta Carbonara is that they top the finished pasta with an onsen tamago(slow cooked egg). Not authentic to be sure, but certainly not as sacrilegious as adding cream. I really like the addition of the slow cooked egg because it highlights the egg as a key ingredient and not just a mere thickener for the sauce.
I’m pretty picky about the texture of my pasta, and am often too lazy to head to the grocery store to buy fresh pasta, so I usually end up making my own own pasta at home. My rationale is that fresh pasta cooks faster than dried pasta, so in the end it takes about the same amount of time to make my own pasta than it does to boil some out of a box (well not really, but just play along). That’s why when Monique from Al Dente Pasta contacted me, offering samples of a 3 minute dried pasta, I was intrigued (though admittedly skeptical).
The egg fettuccine which promises a 3 minute cooking time took nearly 4 minutes till it had lost its crunchy center, but it still cooked much faster than normal dried pasta. More importantly, it lived up to its al dente namesake, yielding tender thin strands of pasta that had just the right amount of toothsome chew.
My only big gripe was with the way it’s packaged. They come clumped into an unruly mass in plastic bags, so the delicate pasta tends to break into little pieces. In my package, the longest strands measured only a few inches. If you’re the type that cuts up your pasta this may work in your favor, but personally I like my pasta to have a bit more length.
1.5 oz freshly grated pecorino romano
1 large raw egg
freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbs olive oil
1/4 lbs guanciale, pancetta or bacon
1 small shallot minced
2 slow cooked eggs (not the same as a poached egg)
6 oz pasta (spaghetti, linguine, fettuccine) boiled according to package directions
Put the pecorino and black pepper in a large bowl and set aside.
Boil the pasta according to the package directions and drain.
Add the olive oil to the pot you boiled the pasta in and fry the guanciale (or pancetta or bacon) and shallots until it is cooked and the shallots are fragrant. Add the drained pasta to the pot and toss to coat.
Dump the pasta into the bowl with the cheese and pepper then break the raw egg on top. Toss to distribute the egg and cheese evenly then plate the pasta. Top each bowl of pasta with a slow cooked egg and sprinkle with chives.