How to Blanch and Shock Pasta

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 42,813
    Chef Todd Gray demonstrates how to blanch the pasta.

    Todd Gray: I am Todd Gray with Equinox Restaurant and today we are preparing orecchiette pasta with spring vegetables. This clip we are going to be talking about salting and what is the importance of using salt and blanching of the pasta. We will take our lid off being very careful that the steam doesnt rise up, burn you. So you want to be very careful when taking off the lid, let that steam pass before we stick our face too close to the pan.

    Salting, always cook pasta in salted water, the salt adds flavor to the pasta and the water ultimately should taste just like seawater. Put a little bit of - couple of tablespoons of salt into our water and as that comes back to a boil, we are going to be blanching our orecchiette pasta that we previously rolled. With a wire basket put our pasta into the basket and drop it into the boiling salted water.

    We have a bowl of ice water next to our boiling pasta. It is going to act as a bath for shocking. It is full of ice and water. Whats that is going to do is arrest the cooking so our pasta does not overcook. We will show later on in the segment about blanching vegetables that same is true with the pasta. Once it is cooked to al dente, to the tooth where it is not too firm, it is too cooked. We will then plunge it into the ice bath and just shock it in to arrest the cooking time.

    This pasta is going to need about 4 minutes in the water. You want to be sure that -- few seconds we will give it a little shake so that our pasta is not sticking together. The orecchiette which is ultimately a short pasta needs a little bit longer to cook than say a thin fresh noodle. Often we are cooking thin noodle such as fettuccine or pappardelle for a minute, minute and a half. Again, this is going to take about 4 minutes. When you are boiling gnocchi, if you are blanching gnocchi, the same technique, but the gnocchi typically because of the potato and the egg rise to the top once they are cooked. We dont get the same with the semolina pasta dough because we are just working with flour, the semolina flour and salt and water.

    After about four minutes we remove our pasta being careful of the boiling water not to burn ourselves and in to the ice bath it goes. This shouldnt take more than about 30 seconds to cool down. They are already feeling a bit chilled. We remove our pasta from the ice water. Toss it with a touch of olive oil in a bowl to prevent any sticking.

    In our next clip we are going to show you how to blanch and shock asparagus tips.