Where I work nowadays, we have a tradition known simply as Potluck Friday. This means that lunch on the last Friday of the month is a communal thing as opposed to the individual lunches we usually grab everyday. On Potluck Friday, there is food to share and there is a certain level of one-up-manship among those of us who cook.
My contribution for this month is a dinky little number that involves a few things you can hunt down at your local grocery and a few pantry staples. It’s a pasta dish that plays up the classic flavours of bangus ala pobre (milkfish cooked with butter, garlic, and pepper) and adds them to standard-issue spaghetti, turning it into a regular feast to be shared among friends. This dish has a bit of eggplant for a soft smokiness and a bit of spicy chorizo de Bilbao for warmth and zing.
For all of you kitchen habitues or even you kitchen-phobes, it’s a spot-on easy dish to make. All it takes is a little effort: chopping, sautéing, and boiling up the pasta. Try it for yourself; I’m pretty sure you and those you cook it for will be quite pleased. ;)
Pasta ala Pobre
- 250 grams spaghetti prepared according to package instructions, reserving 2 tablespoons of cooking water
- 150 grams bangus sisig or Spanish-style sardines
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons salted butter
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon dried basil
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 eggplant, peeled and diced
- 1 fish bouillon cube
- 1 chorizo de Bilbao, finely diced
- 2 tablespoons ginger vodka or white wine
- 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan or aged Edam cheese
- wakame or nori furikake to garnish
Boil up the spaghetti till just al dente; drain, reserving two tablespoons of the cooking water.
Over medium heat, warm up the oil and butter till the butter has melted and begun to brown at the edges. Add the onion and cook till softened. Add the garlic and cook just till the edges begin to brown and crisp up. Add the chorizo, diced eggplant, herbs, and bouillon cube; cook for about two minutes or till the bouillon cube has dissolved.
Add the sisig or sardines and cook for a few minutes. Pour in the reserved pasta cooking water and vodka or white wine. Stir and allow to boil for about two minutes. Remove from the heat and toss in the cooked pasta.
Transfer to a serving plate and top with the cheese and the furikake.