Pasta All’Assassina, or killer pasta as it is translated as, gets its name from the tortues method of cooking the pasta. This unheard of pasta dish from Bari fries, or burns, the pasta in a spicy tomato sauce. The healthy amount of oil helps the pasta brown. While the pasta may look charred, it has a slight caramelized taste without tasting burnt. The past is still tender with some pieces being a bit crisp.
What makes this pasta so unique is the way the pasta is cooked. Pasta is cooked directly in the sauce instead of boiling water. It is similar to the method known as “pasta risottata”, where pasta is cooked like a risotto and water slowly added to a skillet. This dish is so popular and loved in Bari, there is actually an academia devoted to keeping the tradition and skill alive!
Important notes about making this pasta!
You cannot use a stainless steel skillet because the pasta will burn and not release. Traditionally a treated cast iron skillet is used. Due to the acidity of the tomatoes, you must use a treated cast iron skillet. For this reason, I use and recommend using a non stick skillet. It may not brown the pasta as well but is a good and safe option for cooking this dish at home.
Another important note is the pasta that is used. The original recipe calls for a lower quality, non bronze die pasta because they release less starch. If too much starch is released the pasta will burn and stick to the skillet.
A spicy tomato pasta dish that is deliciously charred and fried.
Prepare the tomato broth
In a saucepan combine water, tomato paste and salt. Stir and bring to a simmer.
Prepare the sauce
In a skillet over medium low add olive oil, garlic and chili flakes. Gently simmer until the garlic is fragrant and starts to turn a light golden. (Do not brown or burn the garlic, it goes from golden to burnt quickly). Add tomato puree, turn heat to medium high and cook for 2 minutes. Be careful, the sauce will start to splatter.Do not use stainless steel, the pasta will burn and stick. See note above.
"Brun" the pasta
Add the uncooked pasta to the skillet. Let it cook untouched for 2 minutes. This will help the bottom start to brown and 'burn'. Gently flip the pasta over to let the other side brown. Cook for 1-2 minutes.
Add tomato broth
Start by adding 2 ladles of tomato broth to the pasta. Let it cook and reduce and add another 2 ladles. After 5 minutes flip the pasta one last time to help promote even cooking. Continue adding the tomato broth until the pasta is fully cooked. Total cook time will be a few minutes more than al dente instructions on the package.
Serve with more chili flakes, cracked black pepper and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.Every few minutes press in between the pasta with a spatula to prevent the pasta from sticking together.