Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Spicy Fusilli Pasta

I'm not sure how this dish actually came about. Pasta is not traditional Asian food even though wheat is extensively used in our cuisine. I remember eating macaroni prepared as a stir fry when I was teenager and the full fledged pasta with tomato based sauce much later in university. Now, pasta is pervasive and is prepared in so many delicious ways with delectable Asian twists like pesto sauce prepared with laksa leaves. I do think that stir frying pasta is possibly a Malay invention (I'm just guessing) because I remember it being served at Malay food stalls and also my Malay neighbor used to make this dish for us during Ramadan. Of course, back then it was (and still is) loaded with bits of minced meat, prawns and shrimp paste. 

Keeping the traditional idea in mind, I made my own version of stir fried pasta adding bits of deep fried shallots, dried chilli flakes and belachan powder (which I discovered on a recent trip to the grocer). It makes a really colourful and spicy dish and it is high in protein and fiber. Feel free to use any pasta of your choice - I've made this with shell pasta, macaroni, and even spaghetti.

Spicy Fusilli Pasta

1-2 tablespoon oil
70g shallots, peeled and sliced
2 tofu, cubed
65g onions, peeled and sliced
1 lemongrass, bruised
2 tomatoes, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
1 small carrot, diced
150 cabbage, shredded finely
180g broccoli, cut into small florets
2 teaspoon vegetarian belachan powder (optional)
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
2 tablespoon light soy sauce 
10 dried chilli, ground to become flakes
300g fusilli pasta


1) In a wok, add the heat the oil and add the sliced shallots. Under medium heat, cook the shallots until it is deep golden brown and starting to crisp. Remove form heat. Be careful not to overcook the shallots - it will turn bitter.
2) In the same oil, deep fry the tofu. Remove. (You can place the fried tofu on absorbent paper to remove some of the oil).
3) Add the sliced onions and lemongrass to the remaining oil. Saute until golden and fragrant.
4) Add the tomatoes and cook until it starts to disintegrate.
5) Add the remaining vegetables (except broccoli), sauces, chili flakes and belachan powder . When the vegetables appear to be cooked halfway, add the broccoli florets (broccoli cooks quite fast).
6) In the meantime, boil some water in a large pot. Add some salt and olive oil and throw in the pasta. Cook according to instructions until al-dente.
7) Add the cooked pasta and fried tofu to the vegetable mixture and stir until well incorporated. Check to ensure seasoning is sufficient and adjust according to taste.
8) Dish up and sprinkle some deep fried shallots before serving.

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