Au­then­tic taste of Italy

Mt Druitt - St Mary's Standard (East) - - LIFESTYLE - Maryanne Taouk

THE joy of twirling end­less strips of thin spaghetti around your fork shouldn’t be re­served for trips to fancy restau­rants. Home cooks can cre­ate their own de­li­cious slice of Italy with min­i­mal ef­fort.

Owner and chef at Syd­ney’s Pen­dolino cafe and restau­rant Nino Zoc­cali says as long as you stick to a few rules, home cooks can’t go wrong.

“Noth­ing re­ally beats pasta for me,” Zoc­cali says.

“There are re­ally just two recipes for pasta: semolina based, which is dry, and egg based, which is fresh, once you get an un­der­stand­ing of those you can ex­pand your­self with flavours and tex­tures.”

The art of good pasta mak­ing is in the in­gre­di­ents.

Zoc­cali says choos­ing the finest qual­ity items will give dishes an au­then­tic taste of Italy.

“To me, pasta is Italy, I go back once a year and can see the real fresh in­gre­di­ents they use, it makes all the dif­fer­ence to a dish: it can have a lit­tle bit of sauce and be a big bowl of pasta but still be flavour­ful.”

Zoc­cali’s num­ber one tip, which he uses at his own restau­rant where they make their pasta in-house with a spe­cially made dry­ing ma­chine, is to keep it thin.

“The thin­ner you make the pasta, no mat­ter what kind, I like to keep it rolled out very thin and very del­i­cate, the bet­ter it will be.”

Zoc­cali also has rapidly boil­ing wa­ter with a gen­er­ous amount of salt mixed through be­fore he adds the un­cooked pasta.

“Cooks need to get into the habit of not over­cook­ing their pasta, al dente, means to the tooth; you want it to have bite.”

Once the ba­sics are cov­ered, Zoc­cali says that cooks have a world of shapes and sauces open to them.

“There is no one pasta that goes best with a sauce, so try it out, find a recipe you like, re­search the re­gions or the pas­tas and find what works best for you.”

Chef Nino Zoc­cali (in­set) has per­fected the art of pasta mak­ing. Pic­ture: Hugh Ste­wart

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