Angelhair pasta aglio olio with dried whitebait and bottarga
A member of the SCMP family
swiper image

Angelhair pasta aglio olio with dried whitebait and bottarga


Susan says

A classic Italian dish of pasta aglio e olio - with garlic and oil - gets a Japanese twist when you add chirimen (dried tiny whitebait) and karasumi (cured, pressed fish roe - the Japanese equivalent to bottarga). Pasta aglio e olio often calls for dried chilli flakes, but I like to add a bit of heat with pickled peperoncini (also spelled pepperoncini), which, because of the vinegar, adds a welcome acidity that balances the oiliness of the sauce.

Start making the sauce first, because it takes a little longer to cook than the pasta.

100ml (¼cup, 2tbsp and 2tsp)
extra-virgin olive oil
80g (2¾oz)
chirimen (Japanese dried whitebait)
large garlic cloves, peeled
several red or green peperoncini, or another type of whole, medium-spicy pickled chilli
to taste
Karasumi (cured, dried fish roe; also called bottarga)
fine sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
200g (7oz)
angelhair, capellini or another very fine Italian pasta

Thinly slice the garlic. Slice the peperoncini into thin rings.


instructions image

Pour the olive oil into a wok or skillet, then add the chirimen. Place over a medium flame and heat until sizzling. Cook for about three minutes, adjusting the heat if needed – the oil should bubble gently, not vigorously. Stir in the sliced garlic. Cook for 3-5 minutes, or until the garlic and chirimen are pale golden, stirring occasionally.


While the chirimen and garlic are cook­ing, boil the pasta in salted water until al dente. When it’s ready, ladle off about 120ml (½ cup) of the cooking liquid into a heatproof container, then drain the pasta through a colander.


instructions image

Stir the sliced peperoncini into the garlic-chirimen-oil mixture and cook for about a minute. Add the hot, cooked pasta and about 60ml (¼ cup) of the cooking liquid. Immediately start to mix the ingredients, using chopsticks (or metal tongs) to lift the pasta and stir it, simmering until the water and oil combine to form a thin sauce that lightly coats the strands. If the mixture seems dry, add more pasta water. Taste the ingredients and season very lightly with salt, taking into consideration the saltiness that the karasumi/bottarga will add. Turn off the flame.


Divide the ingredients between two shallow bowls, making sure each portion has an even amount of garlic, chirimen and peperoncini. Peel back the membrane from the karasumi then use a fine-toothed rasp-type grater (such as a Microplane) to grate the dried fish roe over the pasta. Sprinkle with black pepper and serve immediately.


Liking this recipe?
Now you can save the recipe you into your own collection.
Welcome to SCMP Cooking

We'll be showing you a whole range of Asian dishes for you to cook at home. We're starting small but are thinking (and planning) big - we'll be adding recipes to the site every week, and will expand to include international dishes, cooking videos, interviews with famous chefs and much more. Be sure to sign up to receive our weekly newsletter!