Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Spaghetti Puttanesca: Pasta Bitching

A lot of stories make up for what is supposed to be Puttanesca's origin. But why do you think it's called PUTTAnesca?

The spicier, and I think more exciting reason behind Puttanesca is that it is the pasta most associated with women of easy virtue. But I call a spade a spade and 'women of easy virtue' are whores, and thus Spaghetti Puttanesca can loosely be translated as "whore's spaghetti." This is from the root word puttana, which primarily means prostitute but can sometimes be interpreted as "trash" or "garbage" but you get what I mean. That's probably a run-in sentence, but that's what I'm feeling now, a bit run in.

Why not? Naples, the area where this dish came from is said to have quite a lively flesh trade and the ingredients of the dish is nothing opulent or expensive. It is also quick and easy to make but is absolutely filling.

However, you can choose to believe the other stories (people came into a restaurant, famished, and just ordered the chef to serve anything he had. Chef had nothing but tomatoes, preserved olives and anchovies, so he just cooked it up) but it sounds a lot like the way Cesar's Salad was created, so it didn't appeal so much to me.

Anyway, here's my recipe for my absolutely bitchin' pasta dish.

5 medium tomatoes, diced

-Tomatoes here in the Philippines is generally a lot more tart than the imported ones, so try to get the reddest and softest tomatoes you can find, without choosing the spoiled ones, of course. If you can get imported tomatoes in your area, go get them, the extra expense is worth it!
1 medium white onion, minced
6 big cloves of garlic, minced
4-5 anchovy fillets

-If you like anchovies, like me, this is indispensable. But if you don't like the saltiness of it, you can substitute it with bottled Spanish sardines. It also works, and I often use it if Allan will join me for dinner.
1 small pack tomato sauce
-You can also use canned whole tomatoes or canned diced tomatoes, just mash it before adding
1 small pack tomato paste
about 10 pieces olives, chopped roughly
-You can use green or black olives, as long as they're not stuffed.
about 3 tablespoons capers, chopped roughly
chili flakes/powder, to taste

-You can use fresh or dried, to taste
pepper and salt (although I skip the salt whenever I make this because the fish is salty enough)
olive oil
around 300g spaghetti, cooked

Heat up your pan, and let's do it!

1. Heat olive oil and add garlic, onion, anchovies/sardines and fresh tomatoes. Don't wait until your oil is too hot. Just pile it on. Simmer and pound on the tomatoes a bit.

2. Mix up the spices in a small bowl and sort of spoon it around to agitate the oils.

3. Add the spice mixture into the simmer, add the capers and olives and yes, simmer some more, maybe another five minutes.

4. Add the tomato paste and sauce. Simmer for another 5-10 minutes. I just like to really cook the tomatoes because it just tastes better that way.

5. Add the pasta and toss. Garnish with parsley either chopped or not. Serve!

Remember, a good puttanesca must taste like tomato and fish (in a good way) and not at all salty. The salt should be there to cut the sourness, not exactly to salt the dish. If you can, simmer the sauce maybe an hour or so. Tomatoes really taste better when cooked for a long time!


  1. it's so cute that you use your rice cooker for others things aside from cooking rice :D i think i will try this one of these days :P

  2. Great idea meow! I'll post more rice cooker recipes for people who have limited access to a kitchen! This recipe is absolutely delish!