When it comes to making pasta, there are a number of things that can go wrong. Sure, preparing it is relatively easy, but sometimes, the easiest cooking techniques are where you can make the most errors. Do you want to make pasta without making any mistakes? If you are a new cook, it is normal to be nervous and you can use these basic pasta cooking tips by Ido Fishman to get things right:
- Choose the right pasta shape
If you are planning to use a heavy sauce like ragu or Bolognese, you should opt for tubular pasta shapes like perciatelli or penne, as they trap the sauce giving the perfect ratio of pasta to sauce in every bite. If you are opting for more delicate sauces, such as garlic oil or pesto, long and thin pastas like spaghetti are a better option. Ido Fishman says that you should think about the amount of sauce you want to taste in every bite of pasta. If you want a lot of sauce, opt for pasta shapes with nooks and crannies for trapping the sauce.
- Use a big pot
Use a large pot for cooking your pasta and for every pound of pasta, use at least four quarts of water. This is due to the fact that pasta releases a lot of starch while cooking, so lack of water can make it slimy. If you use a small pot of water for cooking pasta, Ido Fishman says that it will become thick and the pasta will stick together.
- Add pasta when water is at a rolling boil
A rolling boil means that the water is boiling rapidly and has a ton of bubbles. This is when you add pasta because this will set the outside of the pasta and prevent it from sticking. If you only boil water, your pasta will turn out sticky and mushy. You can get the water to boil faster by heating it with a lid on.
- Season with salt generously
It is a general rule of thumb to use one tablespoon of salt for seasoning every gallon of water you use. This may seem like a lot of it, but most of it goes right down the drain and it is the only time you season the pasta. Therefore, experts like Ido Fishman will tell you not to be skimpy. Opt for kosher salt, as it will add the perfect amount of salt, as compared to table salt or white flake salt.
- Taste as you go
While the packaging instructions can be a good guideline when making pasta, remember they are not foolproof. Sometimes, it can take you longer, but more often than not, it takes less time to cook the pasta. The Ido Fishman blog recommends that you start checking the pasta three minutes before the instructions tell you to. Take out a piece, allow it to cool off for a couple of seconds and taste it. The pasta should be tender, but still have a bit of a bite and shouldn’t be completely soft.
- Stir your pasta constantly during the first minute
A huge amount of the pasta’s starches begin releasing during the first minute of boiling, which means it is the time when the pasta might stick together. If you don’t want a sticky mess, you should stir your pasta constantly for the first minute and then you can ease up and stir after every 30 seconds or so.
- Don’t add oil to the pasta water
Regardless of what you may have heard, experts like Ido Fishman will tell you that adding oil to the pasta water will not prevent it from sticking together. Stirring the pasta is the only way to make sure it doesn’t clump together. Oil only pools at the top of the water and might prevent the sauce from sticking to the pasta properly.