Many moons ago, while I was still an undergraduate, I took on a vacation job at one of the many banks near Boat Quay. A few of my schoolmates were working there for a lark, and urged me to join them. The pay was a pittance, but I had a crush on one of the guys, so puppy love conquered all, and soon enough, I found myself stamping, sorting and counting documents in the backroom.
Silly, I know.
During our stint at the bank, we - the lowly clerks who worked on the 2nd floor - would have lunch at an Italian eatery once a week, alongside the well-heeled, well-paid executives, who worked high up on the 20th floor. Oh, the audacity! ;)
Obviously, whatever money we earned, we ploughed it straight back into our stomachs, not our bank accounts. Tsk.
Anyway, at the end of 2 months, I lost interest in the guy and instead, fell hard for an Italian ... dish. His name was Spaghetti Carbonara. And he bowled me over with his irresistible, smooth ways.
That was my first encounter with an authentic Carbonara ... full-bodied, smoky and oh-so-velvety. Truly love at first bite.
Since then, guys have come and gone (LOL!), but I have never wavered in my love for Signore Carbonara.
In fact, I still see him at least once a week, especially on days when my 10-year old daughter comes back late from afternoon classes, hungry as a wolf. Signore Carbonara always comes to my rescue.
Just the yolk? Or the whole egg? If I am cooking for 1 or 2, I would use the whole egg. But for 3 or 4, I would use the yolks only, and leave the whites for making something else. The rule of thumb is 1 yolk per person.
Whenever I make this dish, I do it without a recipe. I guess that is the result of cooking it so many times already. I am sure that is the case for many of you reading this. :)
The most crucial step in making the carbonara sauce is when to add in the eggs. The heat from the pasta - not the stove - cooks them. Pour them in when the heat is still aggressive, and they end up scrambled. But try cooking this a few times, and you will easily master it.
I watched a wonderful episode of Jamie Oliver recently, where he cooked a Beautiful Courgette Carbonara. If you have never cooked Carbonara, Jamie's recipe is a great one to follow. I cook mine the same way he does. Just omit the courgette if you want a classic version, or make it your own and add whatever you like. My dear friend, Monique, adds peas to hers. :)
I leave out black pepper for my children (like this one above). But on my own pasta, I am very liberal with pepper!