Thursday, October 30, 2008

Traditional Spaghetti Carbonara

When I was staying in the International Students dorm during my first semester in university, I had to opportunity to get to know many people from different countries and backgrounds. It was an eye opening experience for me, having the ability to learn first hand about people and places that I have never been before. I used to hangout lots with this group of Italians and I learnt how to make the traditional version of this dish from them. They went on to explain that unlike the American version, it doesn't contain any cream. There is a lot of debate about the origin of this dish but they stand firm on their believe that it was invited in Rome by the soldiers who only had eggs, bacon and noodles when they were out at war. Hence they mixed it all up and the pasta carbonara was born. There are no exact measurements of the ingredients, just a lot of eyeballing ( in Malaysia, we can it agak agak laaa). This is because they have learnt it from their mothers, who in turn learnt it from their own mothers. Hence I have taken some pictures to make explaining the steps a whole lot easier.

It's a really quick and easy dish to prepare. All you need is spaghetti, bacon, eggs, Parmesan cheese, onions, black pepper and parsley.
First, you need to cook the spaghetti in boiling water until it's al dente. Remember to add in a little bit of oil and salt in the boiling water. This is to prevent the spaghetti from sticking to each other as well as to flavor it a little.

Sounds easy so far, right? Good. While the spaghetti is cooking, cut the bacon and onion into little pieces. It doesn't really matter how big or how small the bacon pieces are, do you think the soldiers really cared about that back in the day? :P

Next, crack one egg and one egg yolk into a bowl. Depending on the size of the egg, you might need two eggs and one yolk. Beat the eggs and then slowly pour in the grated Parmesan cheese into the bowl. Continue to mix the cheese and eggs until it thickens. Make sure it is not too watery and you know that you have put in too much cheese when it becomes lumpy. This might be a little bit tricky and requires some eyeballing, but you will get the hang of it after a while.

Once the spaghetti is done, drain it and set it aside. Using the same pan/pot, cook the bacon and onions until it turns light brown. You will know its ready when you smell the 'oh so yummy' smell of the bacon that will give you a heart attack by just inhaling the aroma.

Once it's cooked, turn off the heat and toss in your spaghetti. Mix it up well and then pour in the eggs & cheese mixture. Quickly mix it all up. The heat from the bacon and spaghetti will cook the raw eggs. Now it is ready to serve. Dish it out and sprinkle some parsley and black pepper.

There you go. A plate of hot spaghetti carbonara. No frills, no gourmet ingredients. Just a simple traditional recipe handed down by word of mouth through the generations. Hope you like it!


Paolo said...

Charlene! Sorry for what I am going to write down now, but I am Italian, and I must!
First: never put oil in the water for the pasta. Just put salt. Make the water boil and, as soon as it is boiling, you put the pasta. Usually 5/6 minutes are enough for Spaghetti.
Second: according to me, pepper is not necessary for Pasta alla Carbonara....
How are you, my friend? Take care!

fourfeetnine said...

your carbonara looks so good! thanks for sharing the recipe:))

Bridget Reed Photography said...

I'm going to make this sometime this week. It looks interesting. I was looking for a spaghetti and eggs recipe (never had it, wanted to give it a shot), is this the same thing? Anyway, looks good! Thanks for the recipe.

Bridget Reed Photography said...

Made this tonight for dinner. Pretty good! Thanks again!

Charlene n Kevin said...

I'm glad you like it!! :D

Anonymous said...

This looks so simple, even for a gastronomically challenged kiwi! Thanks a Lot, making it for hubby and kids tonight xxo Lisa-Marie