Carbonara, the Almost Traditional Way

I have always preferred to cook carbonara the bastardized way. It’s a habit. When the kids were very young, I wasn’t sure how safe raw eggs would be for them so I never used raw eggs. Then, the kids got used to the carbonara with cream and that was that. But a few nights ago, my husband and I were watching TV and he saw Nigella Lawson cooking carbonara the traditional way. Realizing how easy it was, he decided that carbonara was what we’d have for dinner on Sunday night. He cooks on Sundays so the decision was his.

First, cook 250 grams of spaghetti in boiling water. While the pasta cooks, prepare the sauce. Cut 250 grams of smoked, not honey-cured, belly bacon into small pieces and fry in about a tablespoonful of olive oil. The Italian bacon called pancetta is traditional but that”s a little hard to find here in the boondocks.

Parmesan is traditional but my husband opted for the less pungent medium cheddar. What “medium” cheddar? Cheddar cheese may be mild, medium, or sharp depending on the flavor and aroma. Crack four eggs into a bowl. Add salt and pepper. Beat well. Add the grated cheese to the beaten eggs and mix well. When the pasta is done, drain without rinsing and pour into the bacon without removing the bacon fat. Toss and keep tossing until the pasta has absorbed all the oil and juices.

Lo Mein in Less Than 15 Minutes

Have you ever had leftover stir-fried meat and vegetables that look too terrible to serve after reheating? You can toss them with boiled noodles and save yourself the pain of having everyone whine that you’re serving them leftovers again. It’s an express meal too because the lo mein is done in less than 10 minutes. I’ve done that before and it wasn’t even related to an attempt to dress up the leftovers. You can read about that in The Mommy Journals. But if there is no leftover stir fry, is there no other fast and easy way of cooking lo mein?

A month or so ago, my family went fishball crazy. We’ve gotten tired of them now but it was a great food trip while it lasted. I’m not talking about the fish balls that are 99% flour and 1% MSG. I’m talking about the fish, shrimp, lobster, shark fin, and mushroom balls in various shapes and sizes that have become a staple in some supermarkets. I loved adding them to my soups and they are great with lo mein.

Heat the cooking oil. Pan-fry the diced fish, shrimp, lobster, sharks fin, or mushroom balls until lightly browned. Add the garlic, shallots, and carrot strips. Cook, stirring, for about 30 seconds. Add the cooked noodles to the pan. Pour in the oyster sauce, Kecap Manis, and patis. Toss to coat the noodles with the sauces. Add the onion leaves, toss a few times then turn off the heat. Transfer to a serving platter or bowl, drizzle with sesame seed oil, and serve at once.