What’s the Best Way to Cook Pasta?

What’s the Best Way to Cook Pasta?

Listen: Pasta is delicious. You know it. I know it. Everyone knows it. “I LOVE PASTA! I mean … How could you not? I’m actually recording this from a bathtub
full of cooked noodles right now. So. Anyway. Only three ingredients go into this delectable
dish: eggs, water and flour. That gives you two main chemical components:
starches, which are carbohydrates and proteins. There’s some minerals and vitamins there
too. Also, water. The type of flour is important. Pasta uses durum wheat, which is one of the
harder varieties of wheat out there. That makes it harder to mill, which means
after it’s ground up the particles of Semolina flour are not as fine as the all purpose flour
you have in your kitchen. Since it results in larger particles not all
of the proteins that are in the grain are released. That means that pasta dough is stretchy but
not sticky like bread or cookies. Pasta dough’s stretchiness makes it easier
to flatten into sheets and cut into shapes. These days, a lot of pasta gets made by extrusion:
forcing the dough through shaped holes. Kind of like play-doh, except that you’re
actually supposed to eat the pasta. At the microscopic level, pasta dough is a
network of proteins holding together starch particles that make for an overall springy
mass. The cooking process is all about manipulating
the protein and the starch interactions to get that perfect al dente pasta. As the pasta cooks, starch particles absorb
water and start to form a gel, which makes the pasta soft and gummy. Thanks to that tangled network of proteins,
the starches are trapped inside the pasta noodles. If there wasn’t enough protein in your pasta
dough, starches like amylose would leak out, making your fettuccine sticky and clumpy. Some carbohydrates leak out no matter what. If you’ve ever forgotten to stir your pasta,
you might have found yourself trying to eat a single clump of noodles. It’s one reason cooks like to keep their
pot at a rolling boil, so the pasta pieces keep moving and don’t stick to each other. Now the question of should I add something
to the water. Top chefs like Lidia Bastianich or Alton Brown
insist on not adding oil to the pasta water. They contend that it leaves a sheen on the
pasta and the sauce won’t stick. That said … other celeb chefs like Gordon
Ramsay insist on adding oil, saying it keeps the pasta from sticking together. Food scientists we’ve spoken to think most
of any oil you put in the pot will be washed away when you pour out the cooked pasta and
water. If any is left, it would not have any effect
on sauce stickiness. What you should add to pasta water is salt. Why? Salt is our main flavor enhancer and if you
were to enter a food competition without salt you wouldn’t last very long. Last pro-tip of your salted up pasta water:
before you drain your cooked spaghetti, add a ladle-ful of that salty, starchy water to
your sauce to help thicken and delishen it. When it comes to eating the cooked pasta the
gelatinous starch helps sauce stick to your cooked penne, and it’s why you should
avoid this classic mistake: Never rinse your pasta after it’s done cooking,
because you’re rinsing off that sticky starch. Okay, that’s it, I’m too hungry to keep
going. Let us know how your experiment with oil in
cooking water goes and if that sauce falls right off your noodle or not. While you’re doing that, our partners over at PBS Digital Studios are conducting a survey and they want to hear from you. Do you watch other PBS Digital shows? If so, which ones? How do you find new shows to watch? It takes about 10 minutes and you could even
win a sweet new t-shirt. You can find the link in the description below.Thanks for watching and see you next time!

39 thoughts on “What’s the Best Way to Cook Pasta?

  • Okay, who doesn't salt their water? Even more pressing, who RINSES THEIR PASTA? Look, if any of y'all want some authentic fucking Italian food, I will make it for you for, like, $12.00. Just don't fucking desecrate my starchy darlings like some sort of shmuck.

  • so what am I doing wrong, you just described how I already cook pasta: slated water (or bouillon/stock for a more intense flavour), rolling boil and/or good stirring, use starchy water in sauce, don't rinse it, oil is useless as it floats on top of the water, and even some things you forgot, like having enough water to pasta (this is a mistake people are especially keen to make when cooking for larger groups), assume about 2 minutes less than the package advices because you can always boil it longer but you can't unboil it, if you won't be able to serve it right after it's done, then leave it a little less cooked than ultimately desired as it will continue cooking slightly due to residual heat, especially if you keep it warm.

  • "sticky starch"? uhmm.. I do not agree. Here in Italy a pasta that does that is given to pigs, or dogs.
    A good pasta (only two ingredients: semolina and water, absolutely no flours), mustn't dessolute a lot of starch in water during cooking, and its surface must be very very rough to cling better with the sauce.

  • the title of this video is rather presumptious. I've always cooked pasta in this manner, even through recipies and the pasta cooking instructions actually tell you to rinse the pasta after draining.

  • there is a common argument that you dont need to add oil to the water (not included in the video) that states that since the oil and the water dont mix, the oil does nothing, this is wrong because
    1) the oil is very slightly soluble in water
    2) the pasta picks up oil that stays on its surface while it enters the water, possibly causing the oil to prevent sicking, but also possibly making it favorable for the pasta to clump together while cooking (since the oil on one piece sticks to the oil on another)

  • if u do it one-pot-style they r too starchy actually
    so maybe rinsing the starch off (pre-cooking) would be wise

  • We've got to get the fuck over prefacing every goddamn sentence with the words 'look', and 'listen'. It's bullshit. Stop it!

  • As many of you have pointed out it is spelled Durum Wheat. Our mistake! We added a correction to the summary. Thanks to Edmund Bridge, CU SOM Mini Med and other viewers for catching this.

    No disrespect to the 1988 film Bull Durham, which we prefer to watch while eating a huge bowl of spaghetti.

  • Just wanted to point out that pasta is not noodles, they are quite different in fact.
    I am quite disappointed you didn't cover the most efficient way of cooking it.
    The method is quite easy (other italians will disagree with this, but you know there is quite much an adversity towards scientific explainations): after you brought the water to a boil and you added the salt (As you say, no oil!!) drop your pasta in, stir it for some times, then when the water is boiling again put a cover on the pan and switch off the fire.
    The water will be hot enough and for enough time to cook the pasta without any further heat, it will although require a couple minutes more.
    Remember to cook the pasta al dente! If you live outside Italy take off the pasta some minutes before as advised on the box, the pasta is al dente when if you eat it it's still slightly hard to bite and the inside just turned to yellow; the first time you do it measure the time and regularly bite the pasta to see after how much time the inside completely passes from white to yellow!

  • How 'bout adding oil/butter to the mix AFTER you drain the water? Then have a go with mixing that around and it should not stick before the first 40-60 minutes.

  • Can you please cover the topic that cooling then reheating pasta reduces its glycemic index by 50% according to some sites online ?

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