Everything about me screams Americanized Filipina. Although I crave Filipino food once in a while, I don’t own a rice cooker. I’m married to a Caucasian husband who wore a barong to our wedding, the only Filipino thing about the event. Sure, there are the fish sandwich reviews around Lent, but we don’t celebrate the religious side of Easter since we’re agnostic. And the few words I know in Tagalog include eye booger, I love you and a few food items. But despite all this, there is one tradition I hold dear to my heart and that’s eating noodles for my mom’s and brother’s birthday.
Eating noodles or pancit on someone’s birthday in the Philippines is for a long life. Not a birthday goes by that we haven’t celebrated by eating a dish that incorporates noodles. Frankly, I didn’t appreciate the practice then and would rather just eat cake. But as the years go by, I want both of them to stay around for a long time. For my mom’s and brother’s birthday this year (celebrated on March 6 and 19 respectively), I made pasta carbonara using calamari linguini.
Calamari is an ingredient in the pasta but there’s no squid taste. The pasta is instead colored with squid ink. The black pasta (which is less intense after it cooks) looks dramatc against the shaved cheese in pasta carbonara that incorporates some of my favorite ingredients: pancetta, garlic, eggs and cheese. While it’s not pancit, it ranks pretty high up on my list of favorite recipes I like to make in honor of some very dear people in my life.
1/2 pound linguini or spaghetti
1/4 pound pancetta, chopped (bacon can be substituted)
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
Freshly ground black pepper
2 large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shaved
Salt to taste
Cook pasta according to directions until al dente. Drain reserving a 1/2 cup of cooking water.
Heat a large pan and cook pancetta until crisp. Remove pancetta from pan and drain on paper towels.
Add garlic to remaining oil in pan and season with pepper until lightly brown.
Return pancetta to pan and add cooked pasta making sure to ingredients are throughly combined.
Remove pan from heat and add eggs, whisking quickly until thickened. Make sure not to scramble. Add reserved pasta one tablespoon of reserved pasta water if needed to thin out eggs.
Add cheese and season with salt.