When it comes to finding my way around the kitchen, I think that I do quite well. That doesn’t mean, however, that I’m above learning something new. The fact is, most of us do quite well with the basics but when it comes to more advanced topics, we may be in the dark.
One of the things that I love making is pasta. It is so simple, yet so delicious! We all have a certain flair when it comes to making pasta but there is something we can probably all agree on, drain the pasta before you eat it.
Look on a shelf in any kitchen and you’re going to find a colander. The pasta goes into the colander and the water that was used to boil the pasta goes down the drain. If you have been doing this, and we have all done this, you need to stop because it is a huge mistake.
The cloudy pasta water that tends to end up down the drain is sometimes referred to by those in the know as “liquid gold.” Aside from the fact that it was used to cook your pasta, it also has another use. You can use it to elevate the sauce that will be poured over the noodles.
When cooking the pasta, the starch from the noodles is released and goes into the water. That is one of the reasons why it has a cloudy appearance. You might think that it is unfit for using elsewhere, but you are wrong.
What is it that makes pasta absolutely fantastic when it is on the table? It’s the sauce, and having a smooth, silky sauce with just the right consistency makes this a favorite meal of many people. You can use the water from the pasta for emulsification. Here’s why it is important:
Emulsification is important because it makes a difference in the way that the sauce tastes as well as how it reacts. The process helps to hold the oil and water together so that you don’t end up with a puddle under the sauce. In other words, all of the deliciousness is held together and enjoyed along with the pasta.
If you add a ladle full of water to the sauce, it will do more than combining the water and oil. The sauce will also be thickened so it is not necessary to add cornstarch, extra flour or cream. It makes your sauce amazing without altering the taste.
This is a relatively new concept to most people who cook pasta on a regular basis. That is, of course, unless you are talking about professional chefs. They have been making delicious pasta dishes using this method for years.
Doesn’t really make a difference? According to an experiment from Serious Eats, it does. They set out to determine if people could tell the difference between a sauce cooked on its own and one cooked with pasta water. The one with pasta water won hands down.
Before you run off to make some pasta with your newfound knowledge, keep the following in mind:
1. Don’t add oil – Adding oil to the pasta water makes it greasy and that grease tends to stick to the noodles. You might think that it stops the pasta from sticking but that is an old wives tale.
2. Use enough water – When you boil the pasta, make sure that you are using enough water. For every 250 g of pasta, use 3 L of water.
3. Stop Draining – Don’t drain the pasta in the sink. Use a pasta fork or tongs to remove the noodles from the water after cooking. You can then ladle some of the water into the sauce to create something wonderful.
4. Use the Strainer – If you have a pot that comes with its own strainer, just lift it out when the noodles are cooked. The liquid gold will be left behind conveniently.
These tips are not only good for cooking pasta, you can take advantage of it when cooking other starchy foods, such as brown rice, lentils and beans. It’s time to make your recipes even better!