Cooking the basics like rice and pasta is the first thing I learned when I started experimenting in the kitchen as a young girl.
Although there are different techniques that people use to yield the best results, there is one thing almost everyone does the same way: drain the pasta.
Almost every household in America has a colander that is used to drain the pasta water down the sink. However, if you've been doing this, it's time that you stop because you've been making a big mistake all these years.
According to Bon Appetit, the cloudy pasta water, or as they call it, "liquid gold," has another very useful purpose that will change how you cook.
Apparently, it can be used to elevate the sauce that will be accompanying the noodles. Confused? Let me explain.
During the pasta cooking process, the starch from the flour that the noodles are made out of seep into the water, making it appear murky and tricking us into thinking it is unfit to be used for anything else.
Turns out, this liquid is just the thing you need for emulsification, which results in a silky smooth sauce with the perfect consistency.
You're probably wondering why emulsification is even important. Well, it actually makes a big difference in the way your sauce tastes and holds up. The process binds together the oil and water so they won't separate on your plate and create a watery puddle at the bottom.
Adding just a ladlefull of pasta water into your sauce will not only combine the oil and water, it will also thicken the sauce so you won't have to bother adding extra flour, cornstarch or cream, all of which can alter the taste of your dish if you used excessively.
While this might seem like a new concept to some, many professional chefs, including Jamie Oliver, have been using this method to create some fantastic pasta dishes.
Serious Eats did an experiment to determine whether or not people can tell the difference between a regular sauce and one cooked using pasta water, and the latter won.
Before you get too excited, there are a few things you should know that will help you make the most out of your pasta water.
Here are a few things you should keep in mind while cooking and saving your pasta water:
1. Don't add oil in the water, it only makes your pasta greasy and makes the sauce slip off the noodles. A lot of people think that adding oil to the water will stop the pasta from sticking, but this is not the case.
2. For a good starch to liquid consistency, make sure you're using enough water while boiling the pasta. The rule of thumb is to use three liters of water for every 250 grams of pasta.
3. Instead of draining at the sink, use tongs or a pasta fork to remove the cooked noodles out of the water. Then using a ladle add some of the water into your sauce to create some magic for your taste buds.
4. If you're among the lucky ones who own a pot that comes with a pasta strainer, then you can easily just lift up the strainer when the noodles are cooked, leaving behind the liquid gold for later use.
You can use the same technique when cooking other starchy foods like beans, brown rice, and lentils, and take your recipes to a whole new level.
Have you ever used pasta water in your sauces? Let us know!