Pasta with woku blanga sauce and barramundi. (JG Photo/Petty Elliott)

Doing Pasta Right With Delicious Woku Blanga Manado Sauce and Barramundi

JANUARY 31, 2015

Pasta is a staple food of traditional Italian cuisine that comes in all kinds of shapes and sizes, from rissoni, a rice-grain-like pasta, to cannelloni, an egg pasta shaped like big, hollow tubes, suitable for filling and baking with various sauces.

In classic Italian cuisine, both fresh and dried pasta are used in different kinds of prepared dishes depend on the pasta’s shape.

So versatile and popular is pasta, with most dishes simple to make, that it has become a favorite all around the world.

Pasta sauces are also all about variety, boasting a rich range of different flavors, textures and colors. There’s very little that can beats the basic pasta sauce of tomato sauce and basil in terms of sheer simplicity and honesty — and it’s this simplicity that makes pasta sauces easy to cross with other cuisines for tasty fusion dishes.

For this week’s recipe, I have something rather special: angel hair pasta served with barramundi in woku blanga sauce.

Woku blanga is a Manado fish stew with many layers of flavors. Woku is fish wrapped in young coconut leaves with several kinds of spices and barbecued. Often it takes time to cook woku, and so a quick alternative that has developed over time is to cook it in a wok — hence the name.

The dish that results has complex flavors but is fresh and truly delicious.

My own experience in cooking and serving woku blanga for foreign guests is that the flavors of this dish have a very international appeal; most people find the combination of lemongrass, chili, lime leaves, tomatoes and ginger very agreeable.

For convenience reason, I like to use dried spices and also onions (not shallots) for most classic Manado dishes. You still get the classic flavor that you’d get with authentic ingredients, especially from the spices and herbs. Enjoy!

Angel hair pasta with barramundi woku blanga

This is a delicious pasta sauce with a beautiful fragrance. I like to add plenty of tomato to give a more contemporary flavor and wonderful tomato sauce texture. You can cook this anywhere you are. You can also replace the barramundi with lobster, prawn, any other fish you like, or mixed seafood.

Serves 4.

Ingredients:

500gr barramundi fillet, cut into 6cm x 2cm strips or as you prefer; 2 tablespoons lime juice; 1 teaspoon salt; 150ml vegetable stock; 2 tablespoons vegetable oil.

Chili and spice mixture:

1 teaspoon hot chili powder (or as much as you prefer); 1 teaspoon each of ginger and galangal powder; 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder.

Other ingredient:

1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped; 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced; 1 spring onion, finely chopped; 1 pandan leaf (optional), roughly cut; 1 turmeric leave (optional), roughly cut; 5 large tomatoes, cubed; 3 lime leaves; a small bunch of basil; 1/2 teaspoon sugar; salt to taste.

Directions:

•Mix all the ingredients for the spice mixture and set aside.

•Heat the oil in a pan on medium heat, then add the chopped onions and sliced garlic and cook for 6-8 minutes until soft.

•Add the spice mixture and cook for 1-2 minutes while stirring.

•Add the tomatoes and cook until soft. Add water and half the basil and bring to a simmer to let the mixture to infuse for around 15 minutes.

•Season with salt and mix well. Turn the heat to low.

•Boil water in a large pan for the pasta. Season the water with salt.

•To cook the pasta, simply follow the instructions on the pasta packaging.

•Season the fish with salt and lime juice.

•Add the fish into the tomato and spice mixture. Cook for around 2-3 minutes on low heat to get a soft and tender finish on the fish. Taste the final seasoning. Add more salt if necessary.

•Add the rest of the basil.

•Discard the lemongrass stalk and lime leaves. Heap the sauce onto the angel hair pasta and serve piping hot.

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