Step-By-Step Recipe: Cacio E Pepe Romano

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You might recall me raving about a certain Cacio E Pepe Romano in a previous Travelogue about Rome. 3 months after visiting Rome, I still think about this pasta once in a while – For it to have left such a deep impression on me, you must realize that this pasta is capable of being really, really good. And this is why I am posting this recipe here – It’s so delicious yet it’s so simple! Only 4 ingredients, which includes its own pasta water AND the pasta itself. I think it makes a perfect quick but quality meal for anyone who is in a rush for time (or just extremely hungry and in need of instant gratification)!

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Ingredients for Cacio E Pepe Romano (Serves 1)

Cacio E Pepe Romano
100g Spaghetti*
50-80g of Pecorino Romano cheese, grated
Water pasta has been boiled in
Coarsely Ground Black Pepper, to taste
Coarse Salt, to taste

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*In Rome, they use a thicker version called the Tonnarelli. However this is difficult to procure out of Italy and Italian specialist shops. So we make do with Spaghetti!

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Step 1: Preparing the Ingredients

Which includes grating the Pecorino Romano cheese. I would prefer grating the cheese finely into smaller flakes so that stirring it into the pasta later would require lesser effort!

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Pecorino Romano is actually one of Italy’s most well known cheeses, and one of its oldest varieties in fact, a salty and dry full-flavoured cheese made from sheep’s milk. It is very sharp, very intense and quite a treat for cheese lovers!

Step 2: Stirring Cheese, Pepper and Pasta Water with Pasta

Did I mention how much the Romans loved their pasta to be very al dente (cooked but still hard at the center) to the point that us non-Romans might find it a little hard to chew through? This is evident not just in their pasta but their breads as well. I am guessing that Romans have very strong teeth ;D

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Stirring noodles is quite commonsensical so I think there’s no need for me to instruct you on how to stir your pasta with cheese, haha. But do take note not to add all of your pasta water in at one go lest it turns your dish into noodle soup – It might be better to slowly add the water in as you stir before you reach a consistency that you prefer – Most usually a creamy paste-like texture! The starch in the water helps to bind the cheese and pasta together, just in case you’re wondering why we insist on using the water pasta has been boiled in! It is also important to do the stirring while the pasta is still hot or warm, if not it wouldn’t be as creamy as it could be!

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I ground up some black peppercorns into coarsely grated pepper flakes for a boost of flavour. Fans of pepper might rejoice but for those who are not, black pepper is actually essential in this recipe, as the addition of this common spice actually helps to elevate the taste profile – Too much cheese and pasta alone will overwhelm your delicate taste buds and actually render the rich flavours bland after a while. So do not exclude the pepper! Season with coarse salt if desired, but I find the cheese salty enough so I usually exclude this.

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Looks like a plain Jane, but packs a punch. In fact, this is much better than so many of the cream-laden but tasteless pastas I have tried elsewhere in the world! The Pecorino Romano cheese really does make a difference because of its very unique and intense flavours. Even though it might not be easy to obtain this, most European supermarkets should stock imported versions of this – I got mine from Sainsbury’s and it was nothing less than delicious!

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The original Cacio E Pepe Romano that still makes me salivate till today… For a dish that requires less than 15 minutes of preparation and cooking in total, this is really quite sensational. I wish I discovered this earlier! Okay maybe not, because my waist would have doubled by now haha. Prego!

Posted by #phangchewfat 

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