Nori (seaweed) tagliatelle. A tad unusual when it comes to pasta. Sometimes you need a dash of unusual in your life. Keeps you on your toes. Makes life interesting.
I was in a cute, little Italian market (in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn) the other day. They had a nice selection of dried pasta. One in particular caught my eye. It was a seaweed pasta (two types, one with nori and the other with wakame). Couldn’t decide if seaweed pasta was strange, interesting, or strangely interesting? And yeah, I totally wanted to make some of this intriguing pasta.
You can use a standard pasta recipe (flour [00 or combination of 00 and semolina] + eggs + pinch of salt). Just grind up the nori into a powder (in a spice grinder) and add to the pasta dough.
Taste-wise, the nori’s presence in the pasta is very subtle. You get just the slightest hint of sea vegetable and salinity in the pasta. When the pasta dries out a bit and gets a little curly, it takes on the appearance of strands of seaweed. Or at least that’s how my brain and eyes see it.
What to pair with the nori pasta?
To me, this pasta screams for sea urchin (aka uni) or clams or something else with a briny element…
Miso butter? Dashi broth? Uni butter?…
Umami, umami, umami…
I was first introduced to sea urchin in Greece. The bright orange roe of the urchin has a sweet, briny taste. It’s buttery and creamy in texture. If you like the brininess of, say, oysters (albeit, a completely different texture), then you’ll love uni.
When I’ve ordered sea urchin pasta in restaurants, more often than not, there’s so little urchin on the plate as to render the urchin undetectable. This was not the case with today’s creation. There’s plenty of urchin flavor. Each strand of pasta is coated with a sea urchin sauce. The dish is topped with a generous helping of urchin lobes. Plenty of urchin flavor in each and every bite.
Uni sauce = Uni + Olive Oil + Shihimi Togarashi (blend of red chile pepper, orange peel, black and white sesame seeds, Japanese pepper, seaweed, and ground ginger) — pulsed briefly in the food processor until creamy and smooth.
I played around a bit today, adding half semolina flour to the dough. Typically I just stick with 00 flour. 00 makes for a more tender pasta, whereas the semolina flour adds bite (toothsome-ness). Compared to 00 flour, semolina flour is definitely harder to work with. Semolina doesn’t absorb liquid as well as 00 such that I had to add an extra egg yolk to compensate. If you’re new to pasta making, stick with 00. Once you feel comfortable, experiment to your heart’s content. After all, it’s what makes cooking fun.
You can mix the dough in a food processor, but I prefer to do it by hand.
I rolled out the pasta using the KitchenAid pasta attachment (to setting #5). Run the dough (two times through each setting) starting with the thickest and then each subsequent smaller setting until you reach the desired thickness.
Semolina is your friend for cutting the pasta by hand. Just sprinkle a little bit on the pasta sheet, roll up the sheet, and it will prevent the pasta from sticking.
For tagliatelle, aim for strands that are 1/4″ wide.
Kind of looks like seaweed, no?
makes ~3/4 pound of tagliatelle
1 2/3 cup flour (used 50/50 combination of 00 flour and semolina)
1/2 cup ground up *nori powder
pinch of salt
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon olive oil
Slowly add the eggs, egg yolks, and olive oil. With a fork, gently beat the eggs, be careful not to disturb the walls of the flour. Slowly begin to incorporate the flour, starting with the inner rim of the well, into the egg mixture. Continue mixing the flour with the eggs until you have a solid mass.
At this point, with your hands, start folding and forming the dough, incorporating the rest of the flour. Use a spray bottle to spritz and moisten the dough until you have a stiff, solid mass (removing any dry clumps of flour).
Knead the dough. Drive the heel of your hand into the dough, rotate the dough 45 degrees and repeat for 10-15 minutes, until the dough is firm and bouncy, and smooth, silk-like in texture. Tightly wrap the dough in plastic and let rest 30 minutes.
Lightly flour your work surface. Cut the dough into quarters. Flatten one piece of dough (keep the rest covered to prevent it from drying out). Pass the dough through your pasta roller, starting with the widest setting and continue through each narrower setting. Pass the dough through each setting twice until you achieve desired thickness (to setting #5 on a KitchenAid pasta attachment).
Lightly dust the top of the pasta sheet with semolina flour. Roll up into a log. With a sharp knife, slice the dough into 1/4″-wide pieces. Unroll each strand.
Repeat with the remaining dough.
1/4 pound sea urchin roe, 5 to 6 pieces reserved for garnish
1/4 cup olive oil
few pinches shichimi togarashi
1/2 pound nori tagliatelle (recipe above) or your favorite pasta
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
Chopped fresh chives, for garnish
Chive flowers, for garnish (optional)
In a blender or food processor, combine the urchin roe, olive oil, and shichimi togarashi. Puree. Set aside.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Drop in the pasta and cook until al dente (just a few minutes for fresh pasta). Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water.
Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. When just melted, add the pasta and toss to coat. Add the uni puree and some of the pasta cooking water, a tablespoon at a time, until it forms a creamy sauce. Toss the pasta until just heated through. Remove from the skillet. Taste for salt and season as needed. Top with fresh chives, chive blossoms, and a sprinkling of togarashi.