Step-By-Step Recipes: Aglio Olio

Aglio Olio

Spaghetti Aglio, Olio e Peperoncino, or commonly shortened to Aglio Olio, is a minimalist dish with maximum gratification. You have a plate of spaghetti which looks deceptively plain, but a bite of it unleashes the distinctive robust flavour of the garlic, with the heat of the chilli, both brought together by a delicate olive oil. What’s more surprising is that there are only four ingredients in this dish, and the name itself is the ingredient list!

One of the ingredients is peperoncino, which is chilli in Italian. Specifically, it refers to the Italian variety of chilli, going by the same name. However, halfway around the world in South-East Asia, the much spicier chilli padi or Thai bird’s eye chilli is favoured. Being an Asian, I like some hot chilli! Hence, I go with the fiesty chilli padi.

Ingredients (Serves 2)

250g Spaghetti
3 tbsp Olive oil
4-5 cloves of Garlic
2-3 Chilli padi (Bird’s eye chilli)


1. Remove the seeds of the chilli padi and slice them finely. One tip: pinching and rolling the chilli with your fingers with the head of the chilli cut off helps to remove the seeds.

2. Chop the garlic finely.

Minced garlic

3. Start boiling the spaghetti in salted water. Place the olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat, and dump the minced garlic in.

Garlic in the pan

4. The garlic should start to brown after a while. When the garlic turns to a golden brown colour, remove from the heat immediately. Any darker and it might get bitter.

Browned garlic

5. Throw in the chilli padi off the heat. The residual heat will infuse the flavour of the chilli into the oil. I prefer to throw in the chilli at this stage because I like to retain the fresh taste of the raw chilli. Throwing it in at the start with the garlic would kill this fresh taste.

6. When the spaghetti is al dente, transfer it directly from the water into the infused oil. The residual water on the spaghetti would help the oil to coat. Toss and serve!

Aglio olio

Too plain for your liking? Why not add some herbs? Parsley, oregano and thyme are good choices!

Need some protein? Why not try bak kwa (肉干)? Add stripes of bak kwa in with the garlic, and it will add some sweetness and smokiness to the dish. Smoked back bacon works as well!

Bak kwa in with the garlic

Aglio Olio e Bak Kwa

Posted by #chubkaichun

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Edited: A big thank you to a particular reader A who has alerted us to including the steps of salting the water and coating the spaghetti with water above. These are important steps which are often forgotten or left out of recipes because they’re presumed to be so basic – But it’s the good basics that make an incredible dish! :)

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