Recently, I’ve been obsessed with black colored food. I find it bold, intense and exotic. The surprising nuttiness of black sesame, the cumin crunch of Nigella seed, the toasty sweetness and health benefits of forbidden rice and the savory salinity of squid ink. All super exciting on the palette, beautiful to look at, mysterious and black!
From left to right: Black sesame, poppy seeds, fobidden rice, nigella seed.
Today, we’re going to focus on squid ink pasta. But before I go there…
The inspiration for this post came from a recent issue of Bon Appétit where they featured a shrimp pasta on the cover. The ingredient list was simple enough but called for Nduja – pronounced N-DOOO-YA in case you’re curious.
Nudja or Calabrian Sausage is basically salami paste and is often sold in a tube. It has been making appearances on charcuterie boards for some time now. Spread it on thinly sliced baguette, broil for 30 seconds and you’ve got yourself a wicked fast savory treat! Stir a few tablespoons into soups, sauces and braises to really fire things up! I bet it would be amazing added to stir fried rapini with some garlic and lemon zest too! Or how about seafood? A nice counterpoint for sweet lump crab, meaty lobster, plump shrimp or briny mussels!
Be creative…try not to buy the tube, use it for one single recipe (this one I hope!) and let the rest rot in your fridge…it is way too good for that. With an alluring funkiness and a good level of smoky latent heat, it delivers a whack load of umami. This tubed goodness is a total winner!!! Tim Hayward from the Guardian got it bang on in this article.
Some seriously cool ingredients in this dish right? In case you live in Toronto, the Healthy Butcher carries Nduja and most fish mongers and Italian delis will carry squid ink (frozen and shelf stable). I purchased mine from my local Salumeria – post to come on this amazing little store.
Remember, a little bit of squid ink goes a long way here. You only need a small amount to add a lovely brininess to your dish and to make it feel, taste and smell like you are closer to the sea.
Shrimp Pasta with Nudja
For us, a Sauvignon Blanc was a natural pairing here. Something simple enough but with a good amount of acidity and some citrus notes that will pick up on the lemon and zest. There is a whole lot going on in this dish, fennel from the Pernod, citrus, spice from the nduja, squid ink.
Squid Ink Pasta Dough
- 4 large eggs
- 100 g semolina flour
- 400 g 00 flour or AP flour
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 1 tsp salt
- 30 g or 1 Tbsp squid ink
Mix the dry ingredients in you stand up mixer until combined.
In a small bowl, add the wet ingredients, gently breaking up the egg yolks. Dump the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and mix using a bread hook attachment until all the flour has been incorporated.
At this point, turn the dough and any remaining scraps onto a clean surface and knead until a smooth and elastic dough is formed, about 10 minutes of contiuous kneading.
If you prefer, you can do all this in the stand up mixer or food processor, I just prefer to feel the dough in my hands.
Divide the dough in two equal portions, wrap in plastic and allow to chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 days.
Using a pasta machine or kitchenaid pasta attachment, roll out the dough to setting 5 then change the attachment to the linguini or fettucine attachment. Dry pasta on a pasta rack while you process the rest of the dough to prevent sticking. (I use plastic hangers for this, I find it works very well and my kitchen looks hilarious whenever I do this – see below).
Time to assemble the pasta! Once the pasta is out of the way, this dish comes together in a snap! The assembly of the pasta is adapted from the Bon Appétit. Mind the addition of salt to this dish as the Nduja delivers a good amount of sodium.
- 1/2 of the squid ink linguine from above, or enough dry linguine for 4 people
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/2 red onion, minced
- 1 lb shrimp, peeled, deveined and roughly chopped
- 2 Tbsp Arak or Pernod
- 1 1/2 cup passata or tomato sauce
- 1 cup fish stock (use chicken stock if you can’t find it) – see note
- 4 Tbsp Nduja
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1 tsp finely grated lemon zest (optional)
- 1/3 cup chopped parsley
- Salt and pepper
Boil the pasta in salted boiling water until al dente. Save 1 cup of the water to thin the sauce.
Pat the shrimp dry and season the shrimp with salt and pepper. Set aside.
In a large frying pan or pot, heat the olive oil over high and add the garlic and onion. Add the nduja breaking it apart with the back of a wooden spoon. Carefully pour in the Arak – watch for flames!!!
Once flames have settled, add the passata, fish stock and bring to a boil until slightly reduced, 5 minutes.
Add the shrimp at this point and stir until just pink and cooked through. Add the parsley, lemon juice and zest and 1/2 cup of pasta water. Taste the sauce and adjust seasoning.
Reduce the heat to medium. Add the pasta and stir to combine. Add more pasta water to thin the sauce if necessary.
Divide into large warmed pasta bowls and serve with leftover lemon wedges. Sprinkle with more parsley and Enjoy!!!
I remember from my visit to Malaysia as a young kid, a restaurant famous for serving the most amazing Laksa in Penang. Trouble was that they only served it once a week and they would sell out in a flash. It took them an entire week of collecting and freezing shrimp shells from other uses to have enough shells for the depth of flavor required. If you happen to buy shrimp with the shells and tails intact, consider making your own shrimp stock. After peeling the shells, throw them into a pot with half an onion, a smashed garlic clove and bay leaf (add other aromatics and seasoning if you would like). Cover with water and bring to a gentle simmer for 30 minutes. Strain well and you’ve got yourself some good shrimp stock.
For my vegetarian friends (who eat seafood): Omit the nduja and add a sprinkling of chili pepper flakes or better yet some smoky Gochugaru flakes to the dish along with the onions and garlic.
For my gluten-free friends: I’ve been meaning to try this dish with zucchini noodles made from my spiralizer substituted for the squid ink pasta. I’m still learning about the best varieties of gluten-free pasta so if you have a suggestions, please leave a comment.