BS- oil to make spaghetti not stick

Discussion in 'Professional Chefs' started by cookinscool, Oct 2, 2002.

  1. cookinscool

    cookinscool

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    sooooo,
    I was at a school function, eating nasty spaghetti that was all stuck together, partly cause it was a few days old, and partly because, as my friend said, "they didn't put oil in when they boiled the spaghetti"....so immediately...i'm like...thats not right...its a myth, it doesn't do anything. It all just floats on top. She says, " no the oil and the water immulsify"...thats pretty funny, i laughed. Yes eggs and oil will immulsify, but not water and oil. please tell me i'm right about this. Her argument for her being right(besides the immulsification) is she's italian. So, please tell me who's right...me or her

    Thanks,
    Ron
     
  2. paisan

    paisan

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    Well, you are right in one respect.... dumping oil into a pot of boiling water is not going to make it emulsify. An emulsification happens when you break apart the oil into small enough particles that they mix in with another liquid. Think about making a vinaigrette....you add spices and what not to some sort of vinegar, and then SLOWLY, while whisking vigorously add a stream of oil until the mixture comes together. This also works if using a bit of stock in place of some of the oil for a low fat vinaigrette. The oil breaks down into tiny particles and makes an emulsion. Also, you could add a bit of mustard(i prefer dijon for the most part), as it helps the emulsification. Im really not sure why, it just does. And one more thing....any self respecting italian would save that olive oil to dress the pasta with AFTER it is removed from the water....only salt is added to the boiling water, as it imparts flavor to the pasta AND increases the boiling temp of the water. This girl had better check her roots.....

    Oh....and good luck trying to convince an italian woman shes wrong!!!!!! LOL

    Ciao....paisan
     
  3. svadhisthana

    svadhisthana

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    My mother used to put oil in her boiling pasta-I bet she still does.
    If you have enough space/water for the pasta to cook in, you won't have the starchy gooey sticks together mess.
     
  4. kimmie

    kimmie

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    No oil during cooking: Marcella Hazan and Lydia Bastianich are italian too! :D

    Just advise your friend that oil on pasta is for leftovers: that is if she tossed her refreshed pasta with a bit of olive oil it would never get sticky.

    Good luck :)
     
  5. rickh

    rickh

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    I agree with no oil. I have never put oil in my noodles while boiling and never had them stick. Olive oil in it afterwards can add a touch of flavor and keep it from sticking with each other when it is cooler. That would be the only way that I could see oil really making a difference.
     
  6. panini

    panini

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    oil in everything, the water, the hair, the walls,the canvas,the engine, oil usually won't hurt something but not always needed. Of course cheap pasta can use all the help it can get. Good pasta just needs a little spritz if you not adding into something directly.
    But don't take my word, I'm just a Texan!!!:D
     
  7. greg

    greg

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    Actually, the convection of the boiling water will emulsify the oil, at least while the water is still boiling. The principle at work here is related to the one behind simmering, but never boiling, stock. That's kind of academic in this case, though, as lack of oil is not the reason the pasta was stuck together.
     
  8. katew

    katew

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    My chefs say cook the pasta with just salt in the water, and toss it with the oil after you drain it. Why dump all that oil down the drain?
     
  9. chiffonade

    chiffonade

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    We wouldn't have considered par cooking pasta without adding oil to it in order to hold it. If you don't add the oil, the starch sticks together like glue. We par cooked the pasta, then finished it in the pan with the appropriate sauce. If we didn't oil the pasta just after cooking it, we couldn't have done this.

    I think the "BS" comes in when you add oil to the cooking water.
     
  10. kimmie

    kimmie

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    There are three common reasons for gooey/sticky pasta: either there's not enough water, the water is not at a rolling boil or the pasta was not stirred initially. There's a fourth reason: crappy pasta to begin with.
     
  11. pongi

    pongi

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    panini,
    although you're obviously right about emulsification (throwing some oil into boiling water can't make an emulsion!) I think you're a bit too sarcastic with that italian girl.
    Oil is not needed to prevent sticking when you cook dry pasta (like spaghetti or penne) if the product is good and you put enough water in the pot...but is very helpful with fresh pasta like lasagne or ravioli. Since they must not boil too vigorously and you cannot stir them as they could break, sticking can be prevented adding some oil to the water. This is usually done by italian housewives, I can't give you any scientific explanation for that but actually it DOES work :)

    Pongi
     
  12. pongi

    pongi

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    OMG, I'm sorry panini, I was wrong! My answer wasn't addressed to you but to paisan. Suppose my mistake is due to the fact that your names share FOUR letters out of six...

    Pongi :blush:
     
  13. foodnfoto

    foodnfoto

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    If you overcook pasta, no amount of oil in the water or doused on after draining will keep the pasta from being sticky. All you get is greasy, gummy pasta.

    I never add oil to my cooking water, but what I do that hasn't represented here is stir in 4 cups of COLD water to the cooking water just before draining the pasta. This stops the cooking process and restrains the suspended starch from adhering to the pasta.

    By the way, I believe the word we're looking for here might be a "suspension" of oil in boiling water. If the oil rises after the water stops boiling, it wouldn't be emulsified. I believe "emulsification" refers to a stable combination of seperate ingredients through a chemical catalyst. Shirley Corriher explains it very well in her book-the title escapes me now.
     
  14. pongi

    pongi

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    That's correct, foodnfoto, a "suspension" is just what we're talking about :)
    As for the cold water before draining pasta, it's what I too usually do, but I must say I read conflicting opinions about this point. Someone (can't remember who but it was a very reliable source) says that it must be avoided as the quick change of temperature has a bad effect on the pasta texture. Maybe it would be better draining the pasta undercooked enough to reach the right consistency just when you serve it...

    Pongi
     
  15. kimmie

    kimmie

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    You may be right Pongi. Here's a quote from Antonio Carluccio:

    «Never rinse pasta in cold water -- if you want to cool it down and interrupt the cooking process, add a couple of glasses of cold water to the pot when you take it off the stove.»
     
  16. panini

    panini

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    Pongi,
    No problem, I knew where it was supposed to go. I for one wouldn't be here if it weren't for loving Italian women.
    I agree with FnF. suspension.
     
  17. paisan

    paisan

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    foodnfoto....i think the book you refer to is "cookwise"....great book, tells you the "whys" and "hows" and not just what goes into a recipe.
    pongi.....ive only once had a problem with fresh pasta falling apart, ie.ravioli,tortellini.....and my dear grandmother Arlotta quickly corrected me saying; "youre not cooking over a campfire, you can turn the heat down!"

    Ciao....paisan