5 Ingredients, an Urban Family series where we sit down with a Shanghai-based chef and ask for a family-friendly meal using 5 Ingredients easily found in Shanghai; let us help you start the week with a simple five-step recipe!
This week we talked to Giovanni Papi, Head Chef of Popolo Group (Gemma, Bar Centrale, QV Wine & Tapas, Enoterra, Alimentari and Buco and Coffee Lab). Originally from Sardinia, Italy, Chef Papi’s passion and expertise for Italian cuisine has led him to restaurants in France, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Italy, the UK and Australia; his career embodies Paul Bucose’s famous phrase “one never stops learning.” Papi’s goal of traversing the globe to discover and understand different cultures and their cooking styles and ingredients landed him in Shanghai 18 months ago, where he joined the Popolo team as Head Chef.
Can you tell me about the dish you are helping us prepare this week?
The type of pasta we are making, ‘mal tagliati,’ means ‘poorly cut.’ Let’s call it the scraps: whenever you’re making fresh pasta, there are always remaining scraps of dough. They may not be pretty, but they still taste great. Instead of throwing these leftover bits away, you can make a quick, rustic meal with the addition of just a few common ingredients. Of course, here we are preparing the dough from scratch, but this dish is simple, fun to make and quite versatile. Best of all, you can easily change it by adding your own favorite vegetables and fresh herbs.
What five ingredients do we need?
500 grams flour (or 300 grams flour and 200 grams semolina)
5 whole eggs
10 cherry tomatoes, halved
20 fresh basil leaves
1 lemon, for zesting
Additional ingredients for cooking and garnish
High-quality extra virgin olive oil
Whole garlic cloves
Fresh parmesan cheese, if desired
What is the five-step recipe?
1. Make the fresh pasta dough
Measure out your flour onto a clean surface and make a well in the middle. Crack the eggs into the well and mix with your hands until fully incorporated into the flour; kneading until no clumps remain. Form the dough into a ball and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes (if using semolina flour, you can skip the chilling step).
2. Roll and cut your pasta
Flour a clean surface, and using a rolling pin, roll the chilled dough into a flat, thin sheet (about 2 millimeters thick). Cut the dough into the shape of your choice: triangles, long strips, anything goes. Put a pot of water on to boil and add a generous amount of salt once it is boiling.
3. Cook your sauce and pasta
Place a saucepan over medium heat and add enough olive oil to coat the bottom. Once the olive oil is slightly smoking, add in a few cloves of garlic. When you can smell the garlic, add in your cherry tomatoes and a sprinkle of salt; toss to coat the tomatoes in oil.
Once your tomatoes are in the pan, add your fresh pasta to the boiling water and cook for two to three minutes, until al dente.
While the pasta cooks, continue to sauté the tomatoes until they begin to release their juices. Then, add a ladle of the pasta water to the pan, stirring constantly. Your sauce will begin to thicken as the juices from the tomatoes mix with the starchy water and olive oil.
4. Bring the two together
Use a slotted spoon to remove your cooked pasta from the water (do not strain, you will need more of the pasta water). Put the pasta directly into the pan of sauce and stir over heat, adding spoonfuls of pasta water until there’s enough sauce to coat all of your pasta. Turn off the heat and take out the garlic cloves. With the pasta still in the hot pan, drizzle with olive oil and toss. (Important tip: do not add the additional oil with the pan over heat, as this will change the flavor)
5. Plate, garnish and serve
Pour the contents of the pan into a serving bowl or plate. To serve, top the dish with fresh basil leaves and lemon zest. If desired, add a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.
What’s your advice on your dish of the week?
First, always use a high-quality olive oil, this is central to all Italian cooking. Second, be sure not to cook the pasta for too long, fresh pasta will quickly become mushy if overcooked. Finally, remember that the dish is flexible, so you can easily add your own touches. For instance, I like to use half basil, half mint for my fresh herbs.
Tell us something that’s happening with your business at the moment, that our Urban Family community can enjoy.
Our restaurants and bars bring Shanghai diners as close to Italy as possible; from cuisine to atmosphere. The quality and authenticity of our imported ingredients; the flavors and cooking techniques showcased by the cuisine; the lively, welcoming vibe at each of our locations, is all quintessentially Italian at heart. At the same time, we don’t forget that we’re building a bridge from Italy to Shanghai, so I’m always looking for ways to play with local flavors and ingredients and incorporate them into our menus. Making our cuisine accessible, memorable and of course delicious, for every guest that dines with us; this is at the heart of everything we do.
For more 5 Ingredients recipes, click here.