I learnt how to make Pasta when I went overseas to study in Australia. And one of the few things that I learnt as a student was learning how to cook Pasta. I used to live in student housing just off campus in a very small property. There were quite a few Singaporeans residing there as well, so it wasn’t so tough for me especially dealing with homesickness and loneliness. Ah, those bittersweet days.
One of the first few foreign friends that I made in the first couple of months was this Tongan bloke by the name of Ma’afu. He was studying to become Pastor and was attending seminary school elsewhere. He was part-timing as a tutor for the students that lived in that property, kind of like a property manager. We became friends, and on one occasion, he taught me how to make Pasta.
For him, pasta was actually Spaghetti Bolognese. Of course I didn’t know any better, so I just follow lor (Singaporeans were very good at doing that.) So as soon as I learnt how to actually do it, I never forgot it. That’s the one thing that I never really understood about myself. I just needed to see a recipe once and it would retain in my memory. It’s been more than 20 years, but I can still remember how it was supposed to be done.
From that time until now, I have also learnt a whole lot more about food handling and how to extenuate the natural flavours of the ingredients that I was using, and that helped too. The key I believe is to use fresh minced beef, and nothing comes as fresh as the minced beef from Cold Storage. I like shopping at Cold Storage, the ingredients there are somehow fresher. The only bad thing about them is that they are a lot more expensive.
So wifey said that she would like to eat Pasta, and for me the decision to make it is a no-brainer – it has to be Spaghetti Bolognese.
Here’s how it is done.
Half a box of Barilla Spaghetti – cooks in 5 minutes
150 grams Minced Beef
A punnet of White Button Mushrooms
4 pieces of Garlic
A bottle of Prego Pasta Sauce (Traditional)
bunch of Basil Leaves
Sharp Cheddar & Mozzarella Cheese mix
1. Boil a pot of water for the cooking of the spaghetti sticks. They should be done in 5 minutes if you want them to be Al Dente. Remember to add some oil and sea salt into the pot. This helps the pasta to not stick together and it also flavours the pasta. If you don’t really like it Al Dente, you can opt to cook it a minute or two longer. Quart the mushrooms, and then fry them in about 30 grams of butter in a small pot. Fry until you can smell the mushrooms. Then off the fire and reserve the mushrooms one side.
2. Place the minced beef in a bowl and add a pinch of salt and white pepper. Mix the salt and the pepper into the minced beef and let it marinate the meat for about 5-10 minutes. Mince the garlic and then fry them in a wok with about 2-3 tbsp of oil. Fry until the fragrance of the garlic comes out. Then add the marinated minced beef in the wok to fry. Don’t fry too long. Just until it turns from reddish to light brown. Then add the buttered mushrooms into the wok and continue to fry under medium heat.
3. Then add the pasta sauce into the wok and cook until the sauce starts to bubble slightly. Then add the basil leaves and continue to cook over low heat. The pasta should be either Al Dente or softened by this time (it’s all about timing it properly). With a food tong, serve the pasta onto the plate, there should be about enough for two servings and a little more. Measure them out if you like, about 170 grams (ideal) or equally. Then ladle the sauce over the pasta and top it with sharp cheddar and mozzarella cheese mix. Easy.