The increase in trendy diet fads in Malaysia has some benefits for the urban celiac. Supermarkets now stock a variety of gluten free pantry staples, including pasta. For years, most celiacs with working taste buds have avoided gluten free pasta for its unfortunately gluggy, cardboard-like texture. However, the recent influx of new brands to the market has changed this.
The brands found supermarkets here are Orgran, De Bole, San Remo and Dove’s Organic Farm. I try to avoid corn, unless it is organic as something like 80% of corn is genetically modified. So far, the Dove’s Organic Farm Brown Rice Pasta (available in penne or linguini) has the best texture and closest feel to wheat pasta. Luckily, it’s easily found at Cold Storage supermarkets. Outside of Malaysia, I’m a big fan of the Italian brand, Riso Scotti. Unfortunately, I’ve yet to find a brand for Lasagne sheets (that aforementioned gluggy texture problem) so I still use zucchini and eggplant to replace the pasta sheets.
One of my favorite pasta dishes is carbonara. Unlike the super rich, cream-laden version you find in many cafes, the Italian kitchen version uses eggs to create the slippery texture.
For the pasta, use approximately 75g per person and prepare according to instructions on the packet.
60g Pancetta (the label should say gluten free)*
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup each of Parmesan and Pecorino cheese grated.
Put the pasta to cook in salted, boiling water.
In a large pot, sautée the pancetta in oil until it is crisp and remove from pan. Leave the oil in the pot off the heat.
Beat eggs together with the grated cheese.
When pasta is cooked, drain and reserve 1/4 cup of pasta water.
Return the pot with the pancetta oil to a low heat and add the pasta and cooked pancetta. Stir through, coating the pasta well with the oil.
Turn heat to the minimum and add the egg and cheese mixture. Mix slowly to ensure the pasta is well coated and remove from stove. The residual heat of the pasta will cook the egg.
Taste and salt a little if needed.
*Bacon or pancetta makes everything taste better unless you are a vegetarian so feel free to leave this out and substitute with three cloves of garlic sautéed in 2 tablespoons olive oil.