It is a straight-up labor of love.
It’s also delicious and addictive. So much so, that when I make it, it goes directly to The Kid’s house because I can literally eat it by the pound.
It’s fried pasta.
I know, it sounds strange.
Years ago, before I was much of a cook, there used to be an Italian restaurant near us where we often ate. They had some wonderful dishes. One of our favorites was an appetizer that was a riff on nachos. Instead of corn chips, they used pieces of fried pasta.
I decided to recreate the pasta portion. But of course, I had no idea how. I also wasn’t as shameless as I am now when it comes to asking for recipes. If it happened now, I would ask to be in the kitchen and watched the procedure.
So, I was on my own to figure it out.
First I tried using raw pasta, thinking the frying would be the only cook it needed. Yeah, that didn’t work.
Frying something draws out the liquid and seals it in that delicious crispy, fried crust. Dried pasta contains no water—that’s the whole point of drying it. Frying left it greasy on the outside and hard enough to etch glass.
Then I tried cooking it and frying most of it in one batch. I got a tough, chewy brick. I then put less in at one time and it still stuck together. Finally, I only put in three or four in at a time.
I had to adjust the time spent in the oil so it would come out GBD (golden brown and delicious). If you just wait until the bubbles stop, that means that all the water is out of the product so it is perfectly crispy.
But I was left with something that was incredibly messy, made the house smell like a fast-food joint, and at a few at a time, took hours.
So, I made it for The Kid, but rarely, and half the time gave up before all the pasta was fried. Which wasted food.
At Christmas, I make The Kid one gift each year. Last Christmas I decided to fry pasta. But I was really dreading the slog.
While making marshmallows, I got to thinking. There aren’t many stickier substances known to man than marshmallow goo. But when they are coated in corn starch, all the outer stickiness vanishes.
So I tossed the pasta in corn starch before frying.
It worked. I still couldn’t fill the pot, but now I could do 10-12 at one time, making the job so much faster.
Of course, it’s still a slow, messy, involved process. But so worth it. In fact, without careful rationing, you’ll probably eat them faster than the cooking took.
But soooo worth it.
Thanks for your time.
Contact debbie at firstname.lastname@example.org.
16 ounces bowtie pasta
Fine sea salt & pepper
Herbs, spices, cheese powder, ranch seasoning (optional)
Cook the pasta in heavily salted water until al dente. When done, drain and toss with ¼ cup corn starch.
Lay out in a single layer on parchment-lined tray.
Set up frying station:
Put paper towels on large rimmed baking sheet. Place salt, pepper, flavorings nearby. Put pan on medium heat, fill about halfway with oil, and heat to 350 degrees.
To minimize it sticking together, do no more than 10-12 pieces at a time. Gently place pasta into hot oil, one at a time. If they try to stick, gently separate them.
Fry until golden, and bubbling has stopped. Remove to lined baking sheet, and season.