Black Ink pasta, as exotic as it sounds, is actually very easy to find these days and while there are several types of this pasta available, I like the spaghetti. Squid ink stains the noodles into a deep charcoal color and tinges them with a sea-salt tang. Filotea brand is the one I particularly like, they dry their artisanal pasta over a longer period of time, which results in a fluffier texture and reduces the cooking time. As an added benefit, their spaghetti’s rough texture helps the sauce to adhere better. Bottarga, a salted, cured fish roe, usually of grey mullet or tuna is my newly found obsession. This delicacy, which is widely used in the Mediterranean cuisine, can be shaved on pasta, fish or simply served on toast. I buy mine whole and waxed. I peel it carefully with a small knife and my fingers. Finely grated it becomes integrated into the sauce and can also serve as a finishing touch on top of the pasta when it’s served in a dish. Its distinct fishy flavor is not overwhelming and actually enhances the dish by pulling it together. Toasted Panko breadcrumbs bring another element of texture and crunch to this pasta dish!
Ingredients: black ink linguini pasta, rock shrimp, calamari tentacles, panko breadcrumbs, bottarga, garlic, parsley, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, extra-virgin olive oil, butter.
Rock shrimp has a sweet taste, similar to spiny lobster, it also cooks faster than your regular shrimp. I buy it already peeled and cleaned at Citarella, specialty food store in NYC, otherwise, to cut through its shell is a chore. But this delicacy can easily be substituted with regular wild-caught shrimp. Calamari tentacles have a nice chewy bite to them, I love adding them to my pastas. If their funky look scares you, get just calamari bodies and slices them into rings, follow the same cooking instructions as for the tentacles.
Bottarga is a Mediterranean specialty, it is a salted, cured fish roe, usually of grey mullet. It costs quite expensive but you only need 3 ounces of it, worth the splurge. I found mine at Fairway on Upper West Side in Manhattan.
Peel the wax carefully with the knife.
Peel the wax completely.
A centuries old specialty that will elevate your pasta and will give it a hint of Mediterranean fish flavor.
Grate bottarga on finest grater.
Toast panko breadcrumbs in some olive oil for 4-5 minutes, until nicely golden. Set aside.
Finely chop flat-leaf parsley. Set aside.
Smash garlic cloves.
Coat the bottom of a pan with olive oil; add smashed garlic clove and cook for one minute. Then add calamari tentacles.
Season with salt and pepper.
Sauté for 4-5 minutes on medium heat.
Finely chop rock shrimp.
Add another dash of oil and sauté shrimp quickly until almost cooked for a minute or so. Season with salt and pepper, set aside.
For the pasta: In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta until VERY al dente, stirring often. Reserve ½ cup pasta cooking water.
In a separate straight-sided sauté pan, heat some olive oil on medium heat; add last garlic clove and red pepper flakes. Swirl garlic for one minute in a pan to flavor the oil, remove when it starts to burn. Add butter and let it coat the pan.
Then add pasta and work quickly by coating it with oil and butter mixture, add pasta cooking water to thicken the sauce, continue cooking for 3 minutes more.
Add shrimp, calamari tentacles.
Add half of breadcrumbs, half of bottarga, mix all to combine.
Serve pasta hot topped with the rest of breadcrumbs, bottarga and parsley.
Drizzle some finishing olive oil on top.