Two months ago, I enjoyed a rejuvenating trip to Bali on my own, leaving my two jumping beans at home with the hubby. I stayed at the stunning Mulia Resort, and ate like a queen. One of the dishes that left a lasting impression on me was a beef tenderloin drenched in a delicious bagna cauda sauce at Soleil, their fine-dining Pan-Asian restaurant. During dinner, the affable and talented Executive Chef, Corky O’Connor, came over for a chat, and apart from me gushing about that sauce, we discussed our love for anchovies (especially in pasta).
He asked how I usually prepared my pasta, and I said “saute garlic, anchovies, lemon zest and chili in olive oil, add the cooked pasta and water, wilt some rocket over, and eat.” He thought for a moment and said the only thing he would do different is not to cook the anchovies together with the other ingredients in the oil. Instead, add them only when I toss in the cooked pasta. So the fillets get warmed through, and gently break apart, as opposed to disintegrating completely. I tried it when I got home, and I could taste the difference. The anchovies are definitely more present, and there is somehow a deeper savouriness to the dish. The zingy lemon, chili and peppery rocket are crucial in here, because they really balance out the strong flavour of the fish. All I need for a perfect lunch is a bowlful of this pasta, with a crisp glass of white wine. Bon appétit!
Anchovy, lemon, chili and rocket pasta
serves two adults as main course
2 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
1 tsp chili flakes
zest of 1 lemon
1 tbsp olive oil
25g anchovy fillets (15g drained) and the oil they are packed in- I use Ortiz (above)
200g long pasta
a large handful of rocket leaves
Boil the pasta according to instructions on the packet in salted water. Remove pasta from pot one minute to al dente. Retain 1 cup of pasta water.
Saute the garlic, chili and lemon zest in the olive oil.
When the garlic turns slightly golden, tip in the anchovy fillets together with all the oil they are packed in. Warm everything through and add the cooked pasta, plus a little of the pasta water at a time. Toss until the noodles are glossy and completely coated with the flecks of fish, garlic and chili.
Scatter over the rocket leaves and toss just to wilt.
Serve immediately with good olive oil drizzled over, and a spritz of lemon juice if you like.