If you’re scared of eating semi-raw eggs in your pasta carbonara, switch to powdered salted eggs for a tastier noodle dish. Don’t forget the bacon though!
If you’re scratching your head wondering why there would be eggs in pasta carbonara when you usually add cream to it, you must be a Filipino who grew up with bad advertising.
Once upon a time, the biggest seller of “all-purpose cream” in the country got a mega celebrity to endorse the product. The endorsement included a personal recipe from the actress whose photo was featured alongside a shot of the cooked dish at the back of every carton of “all-purpose cream”. The dish was carbonara. The recipe said toss the cooked pasta in “all-purpose cream”. No eggs among the ingredients.
I was among those who got smitten with that recipe. It would take years, plenty of cookbooks and a TV show called “Biba’s Italian Kitchen” to realize that the recipe featured in the carton of cream was not carbonara at all.
Pasta carbonara is made by tossing hot pasta with beaten raw eggs off the heat. The hot noodles turn the eggs into a creamy mass. No dairy cream is added. It’s an old Italian dish and no one knows its exact origin. What is certain is that carbonara has been in existence long before the word “salmonella” entered the English dictionary.
For eggs to be safe from any threat of salmonella, it has to be cooked to 160F (71C) or hotter. Unless you actually poke a thermometer into your pasta carbonara, there’s really no way of knowing for sure whether the eggs got hot enough after tossing with the noodles.
If that is cause for worry, I have an alternative. It’s called salted egg powder. It’s the stuff that flavors salted egg potato chips and salted egg chicharon.
Salted egg powder is made by dehydrating and grinding salted eggs. Because salted eggs are thoroughly cooked, so is salted egg powder. Speedy bought a packet from the Little House store along J. Abad Santos Street in San Juan.
Here’s how I did my salted egg pasta carbonara.
This is not a saucy pasta dish because dehydrated salted eggs are used. So, don't go looking for sauce.
Boil water in a pot. Add a teaspoon of salt. Throw in the pasta. Stir during the first minute or two.
While the pasta cooks, cut the bacon into thin strips.
Slice the mushrooms thinly, if using.
Heat an oil-free pan. Add the bacon and cook until fat is rendered. Add the sliced mushrooms and continue cooking until both bacon and mushrooms are browned.
Drain the pasta and add to the pan with the bacon and mushrooms. Add half a cup of the cooking liquid, if you wish, to make the dish a little less dry. Toss to coat the noodles with bacon fat.
Sprinkle in the salted egg powder and pepper. Toss to distribute evenly. Taste and add more salted egg powder or pepper, or both, if you want bolder flavors.
Plate up your salted egg pasta carbonara. Sprinkle with Parmesan (skip if your pasta is perfectly salted already) and parsley before serving.