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Cooking Pasta Question

post #1 of 31
Thread Starter 
I've always been told that when prepping water for cooking pasta that you should salt the water vigorously.

I've also always also been told that one should run cold water over your pasta after you've drained it such that it will stop cooking.

Won't running the cold water over the pasta wash out much of the salt?

What do you do?
post #2 of 31
Once you have times down, cooking pasta becomes pretty simple.

Find the biggest pot you have and fill it up with water. Set to boil. Once boiling, pour in a generous handful / fingerful of salt to make the water taste like "sea water." You want to salt the water because during the cooking process the pasta absorbs the salt and water and this is your only chance to season the pasta itself.

(Salting after boil is important because salt changes the density of the water and it actually takes longer to boil with salt)

Cooking times vary based on brand , ingredients, etc, etc. But you always want to cook al dente or "to the tooth" The perfect pasta stage where it is tender, but still chewy and not mush.

You also NEVER NEVER NEVER want to rinse your pasta, this washes away the starch and "umph" to your pasta!

post #3 of 31
Uker has it down. Also, never cook dried whole wheat pasta. Ever. It's a crime against Italian food (and no matter how long you cook it, it still tastes like it needs 5 more minutes in the pot). Fresh whole wheat doesn't have this issue.
post #4 of 31
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Uker View Post
Once you have times down, cooking pasta becomes pretty simple.

Find the biggest pot you have and fill it up with water. Set to boil. Once boiling, pour in a generous handful / fingerful of salt to make the water taste like "sea water." You want to salt the water because during the cooking process the pasta absorbs the salt and water and this is your only chance to season the pasta itself.

(Salting after boil is important because salt changes the density of the water and it actually takes longer to boil with salt)

Cooking times vary based on brand , ingredients, etc, etc. But you always want to cook al dente or "to the tooth" The perfect pasta stage where it is tender, but still chewy and not mush.

You also NEVER NEVER NEVER want to rinse your pasta, this washes away the starch and "umph" to your pasta!


Okay, so that's one vote for do not rinse the pasta. You never worry about residual heat carrying over and continuing to cook your pasta?

Quote:
Originally Posted by BC2012 View Post
Uker has it down.

Also, never cook dried whole wheat pasta. Ever. It's a crime against Italian food (and no matter how long you cook it, it still tastes like it needs 5 more minutes in the pot). Fresh whole wheat doesn't have this issue.

Good to know. The wife and I try to eat mostly whole grains and this extends to whole wheat pasta. I'm notoriously cheap so I will have to finish off what I've purchased before I begin experimenting with fresh whole wheat, but I am excited to try it.
post #5 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by Biggskip View Post
Okay, so that's one vote for do not rinse the pasta. You never worry about residual heat carrying over and continuing to cook your pasta?

You do worry about it and take carry-over cooking into account. Cook it to just before your preferred al dente and let the residual heat do the rest.
post #6 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by Biggskip View Post
Okay, so that's one vote for do not rinse the pasta. You never worry about residual heat carrying over and continuing to cook your pasta?

Residual heat isn't a big issue, and in fact it's kind of a good thing because temperature is really important in serving pasta. Ideal conditions for me mean that I warm bowls in the oven while the pasta is cooking, and have a colander ready to go in the sink and the sauce simmering on another burner. As soon as the pasta is done, boom it hits the colander, and as soon as the water has drained (takes maybe 10-15 seconds, I pour the pasta into the sauce, then serve it right away in the warmed bowls. The whole thing is easier than it sounds once you get used to the routine.
post #7 of 31
Rinse with salted cold water.

Problem solved.
post #8 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by BC2012 View Post
Uker has it down. Also, never cook dried whole wheat pasta. Ever. It's a crime against Italian food (and no matter how long you cook it, it still tastes like it needs 5 more minutes in the pot). Fresh whole wheat doesn't have this issue.
Farro pasta is a crime against Italy? Let them know.
post #9 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by iammatt View Post
Farro pasta is a crime against Italy? Let them know.

I sent them an email. My nonna started making pasta fagioli using farro ditalini and it was significantly worse.
post #10 of 31
The short answer is both are acceptable, but it depends on what you want to do with the pasta. -If you are making a cold dish like pasta salad or will bake the pasta in the oven a dish in some sauce then go ahead and wash it to stop the cooking and wash away the starch to keep it from sticking. -If you are making something that will be served right away it shouldn't have the chance to overcook on the strainer or on the plate, if it does it's not the "carryover temperature" of pasta but your cooking abilities that is the problem. You do not want to wash it because the starch is what helps your sauce stick to the pasta, not be left on your plate. If you are cooking something like for example, a spaghetti bolognese. Boil the spaghetti for 1-2 minutes less then the package directions, strain it, dump it on your heated pan of bolognese sauce and let it finish to perfect al dente in the sauce. it can be kept in the warm sauce for a few minutes if you need time to eat a salad as long as you turn the heat off and cover the pan. extra tip: put some tablespoons of the pasta water in your sauce to keep some of the starch and help your sauce stay even better on the pasta.
post #11 of 31
Quote:
Okay, so that's one vote for do not rinse the pasta. You never worry about residual heat carrying over and continuing to cook your pasta?

Batali suggests removing the pasta 30 seconds or more before it is to the point you want.
I sometimes salt the pasta after removing from the boiling water. Depends on what I will do with the pasta after. Have never rinsed pasta.

If I am mixing the pasta into the sauce I cook it less, let it cool almost to room temperature and then reheat it in the sauce. The dry cooked pasta rehydrates by absorbing the sauce. Works for me.
post #12 of 31
I was always told that salting the water was to slightly raise the boiling point, so the pasta could cook at a slightly higher temperature.
post #13 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by PeterMetro View Post
I was always told that salting the water was to slightly raise the boiling point, so the pasta could cook at a slightly higher temperature.

You'd have to add a TON of salt to raise the boiling point appreciably. It's for flavor.
post #14 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by whiteslashasian View Post
You'd have to add a TON of pasta to raise the boiling point appreciably. It's for flavor.
i think you meant salt. i remember doing the calculations in intro to chemistry. there's a negligible amount of boiling point elevation i'm not totally sure, but i think it's also supposed to decrease the size of bubbles to prevent the water from spilling over
post #15 of 31
It's for taste. A lot of these myths have been debunked over the last few years. Some are even interesting.
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