Fusion Asian tuna pasta: Pooja Ramakrishnan

This post is part of a new segment where I recreate the recipes of those around me. I am forever curious about the homecooked food my friends and family subsist on and nourish themselves with – what are their lazy day go-to meals? What do they turn to when they feel like making a splash in the kitchen? What is their definition of comfort food? I will explore these questions through my histamine-intolerant lens, but will include the original recipes for those who don’t get bloated off everything.

What: A suitably stinky lunchtime meal that you can now heat up in your home kitchen without fear of judgement 

Who: Pesce-pork-tarian i.e. Pooja Ramakrishnan 

Bloat score: 1 – Had to loosen my belt a notch

Pesce-pork-tarian is my cousin who lives in Sydney and because of that, she’s only featured in one blog post so far – a review of Italian CBD restaurant Pentolina when she visited Melbourne way back in December 2018. But what’s so great about this segment is being able to feature recipes from friends and family both near and far – today’s recipe is brought to you by her.

Pesce-pork-tarian was inspired by Masterchef contestant Marion Grasby who made, what Pesce-pork-tarian dubs, a ‘fusion Asian tuna pasta’. She was a bit sceptical at first but ended up recreating it and really enjoyed it. In her words, “it’s a really quick, easy and yummy recipe and perfect for a quick lunch now that we’re all working from home”.

Which brings me to the best thing about making this dish in social iso: no judgement from your colleagues when you reheat your leftovers! Tuna smells fishy at the best of times, but whack it in a microwave and suddenly the whole lunchroom smells of your stinky little lunch. Fret no more! (unless you have a tuna-hating partner like I do, in which case they can just deal.)

I loved how quickly this recipe came together – chances are you have everything but the dried chillies in your pantry, and they can be easily substituted for red chilli flakes. The only substitution I made was replacing angel hair pasta with gluten-free spaghetti and it worked a charm. I bought the brand below from Piedimonte’s – highly recommend!

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Canned food isn’t allowed on the low-histamine diet and as a result, I haven’t cooked with tuna in years. I didn’t feel too bloated after having this pasta, but it was a one-bloat situation – it’s hard to pinpoint if it’s due to this, or that takeaway lasagne I had a few nights prior.

The diced garlic and flaked tuna became so crisp, imbuing the saucy pasta with an umami aroma, although I stupidly added too many dried chillies and nearly burnt my face and then tongue off while cooking and eating this – thankfully I have a penchant for spice!

The original recipe calls for shaved parmesan on top, which I went without because I’m not sure how I felt about it alongside this particular pasta, and also features a crispy egg, which sounds great.

Fusion Asian tuna pasta (a Pooja Ramakrishnan recipe, based on a recipe from Marion’s Kitchen)
Serves: 2 

Angel hair pasta/spaghetti – 2 serves (as mentioned above, I used gluten-free spaghetti and am very bad at estimating portions, so I had to boil more pasta!)
1 tablespoon olive oil/vegetable oil
4 de-seeded dried red chilies soaked for 15–20 minutes in warm water (you can use chili flakes, but the long dried chillies have better flavour)
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1½ tablespoons of oyster sauce
1½ tablespoons of soy sauce
185g of tuna in olive oil (salmon is a worthy substitute if you can’t find tuna)
Coriander, chopped

Start by boiling some salted water. Add your pasta in. If you’re using angel hair, it cooks really quickly so make sure you’re keeping watch.

While your pasta is cooking, heat some oil. Add your garlic and let this sizzle. (mine browned slightly too quickly but thankfully didn’t burn – watch this vigilantly)

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Next, take your dried red chilies that have been soaking and add them in. Make sure they are drained and chopped into smaller chunks before doing so.

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Add your oyster sauce and soy sauce and stir.

Now add your canned tuna/salmon. You can drain the oil beforehand or just drop this in. (I dropped mine in, oil and everything, and it was great!)

After straining, add your cooked pasta into your sauce. Stir everything together.

Add a little bit of pasta water so that it doesn’t become too dry. (I forgot to do this and it ended up just fine, but was slightly dry the next day.)

I don’t add any salt because the soy sauce is already pretty salty. I like a little bit of cracked pepper on top at the end.

Add your coriander on top. Mix this in and serve.

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Author: Sonia Nair

Sonia Nair is a Melbourne-based food writer who persists with her love of everything deep fried and spicy, despite being diagnosed with a histamine intolerance and lactose intolerance after incorrectly thinking she was fructose-intolerant for several years.

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