Cooking ‘mistakes’ that can ruin pasta – including adding oil and salt
There are few ingredients that are quicker and easier to cook than pasta, and it can be done using nothing but boiling water. While many people add oil, salt, or butter for a silkier texture, experts have revealed that they actually don’t “make much of a difference”. Instead, they shared the best ways to ensure your pasta is perfect every time.
A cooking expert at Just Spices said: “It might be a staple for many of us, and something that is pretty easy to cook, however many of us are unknowingly making mistakes when we pop a pot of pasta on the boil.”
One of the most common mishaps made when softening the noodle-like shapes in boiling water is “quenching” them after.
The pasta professional explained: “Many people quench their pasta in cold water after cooking for the sauce to stick better, but if you want your pasta and sauce to literally melt together, you should not put your pasta into cold water after cooking.
“If you quench your pasta afterwards, you will rinse the starch off the noodles.”
While this is essential for cooked rice, rinsing pasta can leave the surface too smooth and therefore unable to soak up the sauce when serve.
Choosing the best variety for your dish can also help to deliver the best results when pairing toppings, so you should consider shapes and textures.
According to the Just Spices expert, spaghetti goes “extremely well with Bolognese” while penne is best suited to smooth, spicy tomato Arrabiata sauce.
It’s not just the water you rinse pasta in that can ruin the final results. In fact, the idea that adding oil to the water can stop the shapes from sticking is a myth.
The pasta expert said: “Unfortunately, adding oil does not prevent the pasta from sticking together.
“We know that this is a huge misconception, but adding oil to the cooking water does not one little bit. You will only see how the oil floats on the surface and practically does not come into contact with the noodles at all.
“Even after draining, you should not pour any oil over the noodles. The oil would wrap around the penne as a smooth film and the sauce would no longer stick there either.
“To prevent pasta from sticking together, you should always stir the saucepan well!”
Likewise, salt should also be used carefully when cooking pasta. While some chefs recommend adding it after the water has started boiling, the Just Spices team revealed that this is ineffective.
They explained: “Normal water boils at 100C. Salt water, on the other hand, has a slightly higher boiling point and only boils later.
“But if you think you’re going to be faster if you only salt your pasta water after it’s boiled, you’re wrong.”
This is because the boiling point of salt water is only marginally higher, to the sum of just 1C.
It would just mean that the water would stop boiling immediately until it reached the boiling point of salt water.
The pasta experts said: “It doesn’t make much of a difference when you add the salt to the cooking water.
“However, you should always remember to salt the pasta during cooking and not afterwards, because during cooking, the pasta swells and the salt can penetrate through the surface.
“After cooking, you can only salt the surface of the pasta.”
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