Pasta tossed with a creamy parmesan sauce and flakes of salmon. Alfredo pasta made the real proper restaurant way, you only need 1/2 cup of cream to serve 3. It’s simple, it’s magic, it’s the way real Italian pastas are made. No need to drown it in cream!
I’ve written before about the “proper” way to make pastas. The way Italian Nona’s do. The way real Italian restaurants do.
It’s not about using loads and loads of sauce. The magic step that makes all the difference between a decent pasta and a really great one is tossing the pasta gently with the sauce and some of the pasta cooking water, just before serving.
What this does is activate the starch in the water and it mingles with the oil in the sauce, so it becomes glossy and luscious and coats every strand of pasta. It’s called emulsification, and it’s the real-deal-proper-way to make pasta.
Gone are the days of dumping of pile of pasta in a bowl and spooning over loads of sauce! And especially for creamy pastas, it’s an important step because that’s how to make less cream go further.
Hence you can indulge in this creamy Alfredo without using an entire tub of cream.
Cream does not make my weekly shopping basket. In fact, I very rarely cook with cream. But I had leftovers from Christmas, and used some to make a Creamy Lemon Chicken and the rest for this.
It’s been over 6 months since I shared a creamy pasta made with cream so I figure I’m due!!
I made this salmon pasta using hot smoked salmon which I purchased already smoked. I have attempted smoking my own salmon before, without success. I need to practice!!!
However, this will be really lovely made with plain cooked salmon too, and I’ve provided directions for this in the recipe. The sauce is so beautifully creamy, it really doesn’t matter whether the salmon is smoked or not. But the hot smoked salmon definitely adds an edge to the flavour!
Now, enough with the chatter. Who wants some Salmon Alfredo? – Nagi x
- 8 oz / 250g dried fettuccine
- 3 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 small shallot (US) / eschallot (Australia), very finely minced (Note 1)
- ½ cup heavy cream (Note 2)
- ¾ cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano or parmesan (Notes 3 and 4)
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Good grind of black pepper
- 6-7 oz / 180 - 200g hot smoked salmon fillet, flaked (Note 5)
- Fresh parsley (optional)
- Extra Parmigiano Reggiano
- Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the fettuccine and cook until al dente (still firm but just cooked through). (Note 6)
- Meanwhile, melt the butter in a deep fry pan over medium high heat. (Note 7)
- Add the shallots and sauté for 2 minutes or until tender.
- Add the cream and bring to boil. Turn heat down to medium low and simmer for 3 minutes.
- Remove the fry pan from the heat and stir through the Parmigiano Reggiano, salt and pepper until the sauce is smooth.
- TAKE OUT ½ cup of pasta water PLUS scoop out an extra mug (extra, just in case). Then drain the pasta in a colander.
- Transfer the pasta and ½ cup of reserved pasta water into the fry pan with the sauce. Add salmon. Return the fry pan to the stove over medium heat. Toss very gently to coat the pasta in the sauce and allow the sauce to emulsify (Note 6) for 1½ - 2 minutes, until the sauce coats the pasta - there should be no sauce pooled at the bottom of the skillet. (Note 7)
- Remove from the stove and serve immediately, garnished with extra Parmigiano Reggiano and fresh parsley, if using.
2. You can substitute with light cream for a lighter option. But it isn't the same!
3. Parmigiano Reggiano is a type of parmesan and is only made in Italy. The flavour is deeper, nuttier and stronger and even a little bit sweet. It is more expensive than parmesan cheese. You can substitute with parmesan cheese, but I really think that if there is ever a time to splurge on Parmigiano Reggiano, it's on a dish like this!
4. It is key that the Parmigiano Reggiano is FRESHLY and FINELY grated. Otherwise it won't melt into the cream and you'll end up with grainy sauce. Store bought grated cheese is too grainy, even from good delis. Trust me, I've made that mistake before.
5. Hot smoked salmon comes in fillets in vacuum sealed packets in the refrigerator section of supermarkets. It is already cooked.
However, you can make this with normal cooked salmon too. To do this, just sprinkle the salmon with salt and pepper, heat a little oil in a skillet over medium heat and cook the salmon for around 8 minutes, or until just cooked through. Then flake and use per the recipe.
6. However long the pasta packet suggests as the cooking time, subtract 1 minute for al dente because the pasta will continue cooking with the sauce. My fettuccine packet says 12 minutes so I boil it for 11 minutes.
7. You need a deep fry pan to cook pasta because the pasta is tossed with the sauce to emulsify (magic that happens with starch in pasta is cooked a bit with the oil in the sauce) which makes the pasta extra glossy, thick and rich. This is a key Italian tip for making amazing pastas!
If you don't have a large deep fry pan, use a very large pot.
8. The sauce should be silky smooth and a thin film should cling to each strand. The pasta should not be drowning in sauce. If the sauce goes gluey because you overcooked it or the heat is too high, just add a touch more of the pasta water (i.e. the extra mug of water you reserved) and it will go back to silky smooth.