Every cook has a first original recipe; the one with which all begun, one that they created, that no one else cooked before (at least, as far as they know). It can be just a simple twist added to a classic recipe or a wholly new molecular dish. Let me tell you the story of my first original.
When I was a child and even a teenager, I was not too fond of pasta because, at that time in Spain, pasta recipes were not abundant nor particularly fancy: macaroni with chorizo, spaghetti Bolognese and cannelloni with pâté, which I did not like (now I do), were mostly it. But something changed in the ’80s; new dishes started to become popular and tuna, smoked salmon and other ingredients became part of the pasta recipes. Luckily, my mother found one that included shrimp and she prepared a delicious pasta dish with a soft, creamy seafood flavor.
It opened my eyes to the fabulous world of pasta and a few days later I was still craving fore more. The only problem was that I had no shrimp available and had really liked that dish. I decided to emulate the recipe with whatever I found in the refrigerator and there it was: imitation crab (surimi)… another thing I didn’t like. Anyway, I was sure there was something I could do with those weird looking sticks to transform them into something yummy, so instead of cutting them into small pieces I started shredding them into strings. I fried some finely chopped garlic and added the pile of surimi strings to the pan. Their texture and flavor changed for the better and made the base for a very nice sauce. We all liked it so much that for a few months I prepared it so often that I got bored. Many years later, I have decided to rescue that recipe and, once again, it was a success: even the pickiest eater at home loved it!
Ingredients (4 servings)
500 grs. pasta
200 grs. surimi
5 garlic cloves
1 cup cream
2-3 cayenne peppers
parsley, salt, olive oil
red pepper flakes (optional)
STEP 1.- Shred the imitation crab (surimi) into “strings”. I usually hold each end and move it in opposite directions, so the strings separate easily. It is very important not to cut it into pieces, as the texture will be totally different.
STEP 2.- Finely chop 5 garlic cloves. Fry them in 2-3 tbsps. olive oil and add two or three cayenne peppers. When starting to brown, add the surimi.
STEP 3.- Toss well until the oil and garlic are evenly mixed with the surimi. Saute for 4 or 5 minutes over medium-high heat, until it starts to brown very slightly. Turn the heat off and reserve.
STEP 4.- Meanwhile cook the pasta one minute less than indicated in the package. Use 1 liter (quart) of boiling water with 5-10 grs. salt per 100 grs. of pasta, cooked from 4-11 minutes (depending on the type of pasta).
STEP 5.- When ready, drain reserving 1 tbsp. of the water. Return the pot to the stove, add the water and the cream and warm up. When it is about to boil add the cooked pasta, the finely chopped parsley and the surimi. Also the red pepper flakes if you like it a little spicier, like I do (you can also add the later).
STEP 6.- Toss well and serve immediately.
- There are several brands of imitation crab. Choose one that can be easily separated into strings or flakes. Unfortunately, there is no way to tell except for trial and error.
- You can add more flavor with some Italian herb mix instead of parsley.