The Fiji Times » Food: Pasta and noodle heaven


the The nationwide COVID lockdown has forced many people to learn how to cook at home to save on food bills and discover new ways to stretch the household budget with nutritious, filling foods.

One of the most fascinating things that has happened since our country went into lockdown is the evolution of the family meal. Throughout March, April and May, when most of us were stuck at home fearing to venture outside, many families were browsing YouTube videos to learn how to bake bread, cakes, desserts and inexpensive food to feed the whole house.

Forced to look for new tasty recipes to keep the family from getting bored, I heard many stories of kids driving their parents crazy to cook something different. When we were stuck at home, was your household filled with moans of “Not yet” or “Can we have something else for dinner tonight?”.

Lack of time was no longer an excuse not to learn new recipes or become a competent home gardener during the national curfew – COVID-19 had suddenly given everyone a reason to learn how to cook something different. It was common to see Facebook users proclaiming that they had baked their first loaf of bread or learned how to make dumplings, donuts and Chinese chutney.

But one of the unexpected discoveries, or rediscoveries, for the Fijian family was pasta and noodles – cheap carbs that only need an accompanying sauce or soup to turn into a meal.

Pasta, noodles and dumplings are also one of my biggest dietary weaknesses. Whether it’s a bowl of hot Asian noodles with wontons, chow mein noodles, pan-fried Italian ravioli, gnocchi or a plate of spaghetti with virgin olive oil, butter and garlic, it’s hard for me to resist.

My heritage obviously had a huge influence, as noodles and dumplings are considered symbolic foods that represent long life (because noodles have a long shape) and prosperity (dumplings look like ancient gold bars) in Chinese culture.

They are as much a part of a Chinese birthday party as a birthday cake with lit candles. But my love of Italian pasta dishes is much more romantic and stayed with me well into adulthood. As a young boy, I vividly remember an Italian family – and their beautiful daughter – who lived down the street.

The smells that emanated from their home were forever etched in my brain and the slightest smell of a jar of passata – ripe tomatoes from the garden, fresh basil, garlic and onions – always brings me back to that time and my first Italian romance. !

Who invented pasta first – the Chinese or the Italians?

Pasta is one of the most affordable foods in the world and can come in long pasta (spaghetti, fettuccine, angel hair), short pasta (penne, macaroni, rigatoni) and dumplings (ravioli, gnocchi, tortellini) . Almost every country has its own unique version of this popular and inexpensive staple. In Germany and Hungary they have spaetzle. In Greeze, orzo. In Poland, they enjoy pocket pierogi.

Each Asian country has a different pasta dish, including Chinese dumplings la mian, lo mien, jiaozi; and Japanese ramen and gyoza dumplings. And in America, pasta is prepared and served the same way as in Italy, except for American spaghetti and meatballs, and macaroni and cheese.

While pasta is traditionally an Italian food, the 2005 archaeological discovery of a 4,000-year-old bowl of noodles in China finally put an end to an age-old argument; it was the Chinese!

Fijian pasta dishes

Since we opened KANU at Martintar, two new pasta dishes have evolved using local flavors that have become instant hits. One is the breadfruit gnocchi, the other is a linguini palusami.

Gnocchi is a starchy dumpling traditionally made with potato, but has been adapted in Fiji for use with kumala, dalo, cassava, vudi and breadfruit. Gnocchi are best tossed in butter or virgin coconut oil with garlic, herbs, tomatoes along with your favorite meat, seafood or vegetables. The palusami linguini was a surprise dish that, paired with grilled fish or pork, combines the best of Pacific Island flavors.

Next time you have leftover palusami lovingly baked, save some to toss with your favorite pasta or noodles, leafy greens, nuts, and more fresh coconut milk.

It’s a wonderful way to enjoy a hearty meal of noodles with the familiar flavors of aurus and coconut.

For the same reasons the ancient Chinese and Italians introduced noodles and pasta dishes to their people, they should also be part of Fijian cuisine. Pasta dishes are cheap, easy to store, very filling and quick to prepare.

Our abundant fresh produce, including tomatoes, local mushrooms and coconut milk, and combined with the curry, lolo and chop suey sauce recipes form an interesting combination of European cuisine with local ingredients and flavors.

Lance Seeto is the chef/owner of Nadi’s first fusion gastropub, Kanu Restaurant

Lance Seeto’s Recipes

Fijians love canned tuna, sweet chilli sauce,
lemon and evaporated milk makes this pasta dish
all the characteristics of the flavors that seduce the
Fijian Palace.
Servings: 4 Difficulty: Easy
1 packet of dried pasta of your choice
2 crushed garlic cloves
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon Rewa butter
3 medium fresh tomatoes or cherry tomatoes
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
1 cup Carnation Evaporated Milk
2 cans of tuna in spring water (avoid tuna in veggie
oil), drained
1 tablespoon mild hot sauce
2-3 fresh chillies, finely chopped
salt and pepper for seasoning
1. Cook pasta according to package instructions
salted water, drain and set aside (add a little
olive with drained pasta to prevent it
gluing)
2. In a frying pan, heat the olive oil and butter, brown
garlic and onion for 2-3 minutes
3. Add the drained tuna and the tomatoes, sauté for
another 1-2 minutes
4. Add Carnation Milk, lemon juice and
sweet chilli sauce, mix well
5. Add cooked pasta and toss to combine.
Salt and pepper, check the seasoning.
6. Garnish with fresh chilli, lemon juice, zest
and coriander leaves
7. Serve with a garden salad
Asian noodles with garlic and sesame
This recipe will seduce with its Asian flavor
flavors accentuated by the butter which is just as
delicious on its own or served as a side dish
any style of fresh seafood such as crabs, shrimps or
Lobster
For: 4
1 package of angel hair or spaghetti flakes
4 minced garlic cloves
1/2 bunch of new green onions
4 tablespoons Rewa butter
2 teaspoons light soy sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon Chinese sesame oil
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
Toasted sesame seeds for garnish
1. Cook pasta according to package instructions
salted water, drain and set aside (add a little
olive with drained pasta to prevent it
gluing)
2. While the pasta cooks, mince the garlic and
chop the green onions. Melt the butter in
large skillet or wok over medium heat.
Once the butter is melted and bubbling, add
garlic and onions and sauté until soft.
are tender but not browned.
3. While the pasta, garlic and onions cook,
mix the oyster sauce, brown sugar, soy
sauce and sesame oil in a bowl.
4. Once the pasta is cooked, drain it in
a colander. Remove pan with sautéed
garlic and green onions from the heat.
Add drained pasta and oyster sauce
mixture in skillet and toss well to coat
Pasta. If your pasta is hard or sticky
it is difficult to stir, mix in a small amount (1/4
cup or less) of hot water to loosen them.
5. Garnish with sesame seeds
Chicken masala and fresh pasta with coconut
This recipe combines our love of chicken curry
and fresh coconut in a dish that fills and
less messy to eat
For: 4
1 package of short pasta (macaroni or penne)
500 grams of skinless chicken thigh fillets
and diced
2-3 fresh chillies, finely chopped
1 teaspoon masala powder
1 green “bu” coconut, fleshless and sliced
1/3 cup coconut water
1/3 cup coconut milk
1/2 bunch of coriander leaves
Salt – to taste
Grill and grind
2 teaspoons virgin olive or coconut oil
1 tbsp coriander seeds (dhaniya)
½ teaspoon whole black peppercorns
2 whole red peppers
4 cloves of fresh garlic
2 medium tomatoes, coarsely chopped
4 tablespoons grated fresh coconut
Temperate spices
½ tablespoon olive or virgin coconut oil
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds (sarso)
3-4 sprigs of fresh curry leaves
1. Cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain
and put aside
2. In a skillet with oil, toast the coriander, peppercorns,
chilli and garlic for 1 to 2 minutes.
Remove from the pan and grind in a blender or
mortar and pestle.
3. Put back in the pan, add the fresh coconut
and tomato and fry for another 3-4 minutes.
Remove and reserve.
4. In the same skillet, temper the mustard seeds
and curry leaves in oil until the seeds start
to stutter.
5. Then add the chicken pieces and sauté until
brown, then add the coconut tomato
stick with chilli and masala and fry
for another 3-4 minutes
6. Then add 1/3 cup of coconut water and
coconut milk and simmer covered until
the chicken pieces become soft. So let it
boil until the sauce becomes slightly thick.
7. Now add the cooked pasta and mix well
heat a final 1 min
8. Garnish with coriander leaves and grated
green coconut


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