The Ultimate Prawn Pasta Aglio Olio Recipe
Updated: Feb 6
When I first started experimenting in the kitchen at thirteen, pasta was one of the first complete meals I learnt how to cook - and have since cooked more than a thousand versions of it along the way.
This prawn aglio olio recipe is my version of the Italian classic, and has been tried and tested to perfection. As the name suggests, this dish is simply made with garlic (aglio) and oil (olio) - but the trick is to layer the flavors so that it doesn't taste simply like garlic-and-oil! To do just that, this recipe calls for salt-cured anchovies that gives a meaty, rich and briny backbone to the dish.
Protip: You can add a variety of prawns, tuna, vegetables or even clams as in Linguine Vongole.
This recipe serves 4 people. Prep time 5 minutes, total cook time 25 minutes.
Half a packet of linguina pasta (or your preferred pasta)
500g prawns, peeled
3 slices of whole, salt-cured canned achovies
1/3 cup olive oil
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 whole capsicum, sliced
2 chili padi, chopped
8 cloves garlic, smashed and chopped
1 tablespoon chili flakes
2 tablespoon fish sauce
1/2 tablespoon chili powder
1 cup coriander, finely chopped
1 tablespoon butter
Salt & pepper to taste
1. Boil half a packet of pasta in water, add a tablespoon of salt and a dash of olive oil. Cook according to instructions, drain and set aside. Save 3 tablespoons of pasta water. Adding oil into the water prevents cooked pasta from sticking together!
2. In a large pan on medium heat, stir-fry garlic until golden brown in olive oil.
3. Add anchovies, chopped chili padi and chili flakes and fry for another 30 seconds. The briny nature of the anchovies will make it easy to dissolve into a sauce.
4. Add prawns, 1 tablespoon of fish sauce, pepper and 1/4 tablespoon of chili powder and fry until prawns are pink on both sides and just cooked. Leaving the oil and garlic in the pan, pick out the cooked prawns and set aside for later. Be careful not to overcook the prawns or it will be chewy.
5. Add capsicum and cherry tomatoes into the pan. Season with salt and pepper and stir fry for 2 minutes or until capsicum is cooked.
6. Add the cooked pasta and season with pepper, 1/4 tablespoon chili powder and 1 tablespoon fish sauce. Stir in the pasta water and combine well. Add salt if needed.
7. Add in cooked prawns and half of the chopped coriander and mix well.
8. Turn up the heat to high, add in the butter and mix well until completely combined.
9. Garnish with the leftover coriander, sprinkle with even more chili flakes if you like it spicy - and it's ready to serve!
ALY'S COOKING TIPS
1. Make sure to stir fry the garlic until golden brown so that the rich flavors of the garlic is seeped into the oil. This ensures a deep and rich garlicky flavor to the entire dish, and makes it stand out from regular aglio olios.
2. I like adding the chilis at the first step of cooking after browning the garlic as it produces a rich and even spicy tang to the oil.
3. Anchovies are optional for this dish and can be taken out for a vegetarian option. Having said that, this is my secret ingredient and is what makes this dish so incredibly tasty imo!
4. Adding pasta water creates a delicious sauce when combined with the garlicky olive oil and pungent anchovies.
5. Step 8 is a little trick a chef friend of mine taught me, and I've never looked back. Coating the pasta with butter on high heat makes for a shiny, juicy end product - restaurant certified!
6. Fish sauce is completely optional here and can be taken out for a vegetarian option. I personally prefer to season my food with fish sauce instead of salt, and end up using almost no regular salt for this dish.