I remember seeing black pasta for the first time and being enchanted with the look of it. I was particularly taken with the contrast of the black against the pink hue of king prawns, the deep red of red pepper (capsicum) and the green of freshly hand-picked green beans. As I learnt how to make my own pasta, I also learnt about squid ink, the colouring used to blacken pasta, and how it also provided a very subtle ocean saltiness to the pasta.
If I’m feeling fruity I will buy a whole squid, clean it and extract the ink from the ink sac. Otherwise I buy pre-packaged squid or cuttlefish ink, which is equally as good.
Squid Ink FettuccinePrint
- ■ 3 large eggs | Organic free range eggs are by far the best.
- ■ 300g '00' plain flour | '00' is a much finer flour than standard plain flour and is a ideal for pasta.
- ■ 8g squid ink | Alternatively, I use 2x4g sachets of nero di sepia, cuttlefish ink.
- ■ a pinch sea salt |
- ■ 1 tbsp. olive oil |
- Plain flour for dusting.
There are two methods that I use. The first is by using a mechanical device such as a food processor or food mixer with a dough hook (like a KitchenAid) where you can add all the ingredients and let the machine do the work. Here I will describe the more traditional method. The advantage with this method is twofold. Firstly I find that manually making the pasta works the dough a little less which leads to a more delicate pasta. Secondly, I find making pasta by hand very therapeutic and it just feels like real cooking.
On a clean bench make a mound with the 00 flour and within the mound make a well. In the well add the eggs and squid ink and a pinch of sea salt. Now with a fork carefully whisk the eggs and squid ink until well mixed, without incorporating any flour. Once mixed start flicking the flour into the egg mix and ‘cut’ the mix with a palette knife. Keep introducing the flour and ‘cutting’ it in to the egg mix until you have a large breadcrumb type consistency.
Now get your hands in there and bring it all together. Pour over the olive oil and then start working the dough gently until you have a smooth and shiny dough ball. Wrap the dough in cling film and put in a fridge to rest for about 30 minutes.
For the next part I use a pasta roller, which is where I break away from the tradition of manually rolling the pasta with a rolling pin. Cut the dough ball into quarters. Take the first quarter and on a floured surface flatten it with the palm of your hands until you have a rectangle. Roll the pasta through your pasta roller on the widest setting. Once rolled, fold the rectangle 1/3 third in from the left and 1/3 in from the right. Turn 90 degrees and roll it again on the widest setting. Repeat this process. Now, ensuring the pasta is well dusted with flour start rolling it through the pasta roller.
Start with the widest setting and then work towards the narrowest setting. I like a thick fettuccine, so out of the 6 settings that my pasta roller has, with 6 being the narrowest, I roll the pasta to setting 5. Once rolled, dust the pasta with flour again and then cut using the fettuccine cutter on your pasta maker. Of course you can cut it and roll it to whatever shape and thickness you want.
Leave the pasta to rest at room temperature for an hour or so, and then it’s ready to cook. Bring a pan of slightly salted water to the boil. Drop the pasta in and cook for 3-4 minutes or until cooked ‘al dente’. Drain and serve.
■ If your pasta dough ball is still a little dry after kneading you can add a little more olive oil (but not too much) to moisten. ■ You can leave out the ink for regular pasta.