Thursday 1 May 2008

Spaghetti Marijuana

I have NO idea why we call it that.. it's one of those stupid family things. Someone said it once, it was funny at the time and it thus entered the Furry Family lexicon.

NOT THAT I'D KNOW, but I believe that my marinara has similar properties to its illicit namesake. It leaves you feeling calm and replete, a warm glow from your feet to the top of your head. It is so good, that it has, in the past, led to fits of uncontrollable giggling. The upside is, it fills you up and there's no attack of the munchies!!

Marinara, like Carbonara, is one of those dished that is fought over constantly in food forums... is it authentic?, Does the addition of **insert random ingredient** change it from its very Marinara nature to something else? Chowhound et al abounds with hundreds of posts devoted to whether the addition of cheese or cream or tomatoes or peas creates something, but it cannot be called Marinara.

I don't subscribe to the traditionalist view, and the nature of "authentic" food is a whole 'nother post. The only thing I insist on is either a) making the marinara mix myself, or b) buying SUPERB quality pre-mix.

What, in our house, is clearly NOT marinara, is anything with pre-cooked shrimp and/or that revolting seafood "filler"

This is a question from ABC2's Science forum:

Dear karl,
recently, while shopping for ingredients to make a spaghetti marinara, i purchased some "seafood extender", in the large part due to the incredibly cheap price of the product.
Seafood extender, incase you are unfamiliar with the substance, is a processed product made from seafood off cuts, which is generally white-ish in colour and has one side painted orange to emulate crab meat.
Upon making the spaghetti marinara (mostly from genuine seafood ingredients), i was left with quite a bit of surplus seafood extender. Given the price, i had no hesitation in throwing the surplus into the bin.
The following evening, after coming home quite late, i opened the cupboard door where the bin is located, and noticed a dim light inside. Further investigation revealed that the light was in fact the remaining seafood extender GLOWING!
The small chunks continued to glow until the following evening, each having a consistent light blue glow.(Seafood extender, by the way, does not exhibit the same odorous effects of other seafood, adding further suspicion to it's origin).
Why is this so?

As a scuba diver i know that the ocean has a considerable level of phosphorous present, which glows green when the water is agitated in the dark of night. Crustaceans, being the scavengers of the ocean, and assuming that they are in fact the main ingredient of seafood extender, would therefore be expected to consume a large amount of phosphorous in their lives.
However, this does not explain why my seafood extender glowed blue, and why therefore don't prawns and other crustaceons glow (not that i have left them in the bin long enough to find out).

Much as the story is quite entertaining at parties, for health reasons i am curious to know the answer, and would be very appreciative if you could provide one.

Our friends, Joon and George provided last night's bounty. Joon, bless her curly red locks, is a most wonderful person. But a cook, she ain't. She holds the dubious honor of once cooking tuna mornay, only to forget to add the tuna. I once physically removed her from her own kitchen, when I watched her make **ahem** risotto. She was very nearly charged with Crimes Against Arborio, and I have warned her, that when I am Empress of the Universe, it will be illegal for her to touch foodstuffs.

She is perfectly okay with this.

George, bless HIS little heart, obviously listens to my maniacal ravings about food. Last night he presented my with not only the BEST pre-fab marinara mix I have ever eaten, he also provided a dozen fresh oysters and proudly declared their origin (Ceduna). My Sole Mama rantings are coming home to roost!!

Apparently he got this mix from a seafood wholesaler in Clayton, somewhere on Dunlop Road.

As you can see from the pics, this marinara mix was the real deal... plenty of goodly chunks of salmon, baby octopus, calamari, mussels and RAW prawns.


No seafood extender, no pre-cooked shrimp,

I did the oysters Kilpatrick, Joon's favorite. I was going with an Asian theme (terryaki, crispy shallots and lime) but her pathetic pleadings for Kilpatrick touched my soul. Sorry.. no photos as they were scoffed as quickly as I could serve them.

For the marinara, here's what I did.. Traditionalists might sniff and scoff, but this is my food blog, so bite me.

pg's Spaghetti Marijuana.

Make up spaghetti as per preferred method.

In a large cast iron frypan, wilt a single chopped tomato in good olive oil. All you want is to melt the tomato somewhat, and flavour the oil with a hint of fresh tomato. You cannot sub tomato paste/sugo/passata for this. They're too rich. You gots to use the real thing.

Once the tommie has melted a bit and the oil has taken on a pale red colour, add the seafood and crank up the heat. cook until the octopodi legs have curled. This is the perfect mark, as this will leave the calamari tender, the prawns pink and juicy, the mussels perfectly done and the octopodi untoughened. Add a handful of chopped parsley and a splash of cream. Seriously, just a splash. You just want to bring all the ingredients together and create a small amount of "gravy" to coat the pasta.

Serve and scoff with a Haughton's White Burgundy


thanh7580 said...

Mmmm, looks and sounds delicious Ella, especially the oysters. Pre cooked shrimps and seafood extenders should be banned. Those awful seafood extenders and fake crab sticks are disgusting and are regularly sold in seaside fish and chip shops as "seafood". What a tragedy when we have access to so much fresh, real, seafood.

Anonymous said...

Love love love spag marijuana Pg.
You are lucky to have all that delicious seafood at hand kinda like having one of the crew from 'Pirates of the Carribean' to pick bits off & cook. I can guess which bit you'd pick off first to chuck in the pot but thats another story!LOL!
An older Italian woman, a veterean of the Adelaide food scene, once devulged her fantastic but unassuming recipe for a very cost effective marinara to me. It goes like this:

Olive oil
chilli, chopped
bay leaves
olives, green & black, both pitted
canned tomatoes
chopped parsley
canned tuna
1. Heat the oil & add the onions, chilli, garlic, anchovies, olives, capers & bay leaves.
2. Next add the canned tomatoes & bring to the boil.
3. Add the cuttlefish & canned tuna & cook until the cuttlefish is tender-about 1 hour.
4. next add the mussels, when they open add your prawns & finally the scallops.
5. the last thing is the fresh parsley, bring to the boil & let cool.
The oil should have risen to the top(like a ragu or napoli sauce)
6. It keeps in the fridge for literally weeks 7 developes a very rich seafoody flavour.
Toss with you fave pasta but I also add some toasted sourdough bread crumbs to soak up that delicious oil! Yum Yum!

purple goddess said...


Real. Fresh. Simple.

That's the key.

Thanks for dropping by, guys!

Hey Thanh? How was Wagyu-Fest?

thanh7580 said...

Ella, the Wagyu-fest was absolutely amazing. Charles was such a genuinely passionate chef. He helped explain so many things to us about wagyu and also all these other japanese ingredients that I never even knew of.

The food was all so simply done, but the freshness of the produce and flavours just combined so well. I have to find some time to write up so many posts I have in my head.

How are you going lately? Find any new good cheap restaurants for me to eat at?

grocer said...

I do believe (have been led to believe) that seafood extender is made using tallow and other beef "waste".

purple goddess said...


Any ideas on why it glowed blue??

The web site I got that from didn't have the answer.

Either way, it's scary stuff, and has no place in ANYONE's kitchen!!

Anonymous said...

Could it be some inert static electricty accumulated whilst being formulated?
Could it be in the diet of some of the 'real' seafood that makes up some of its matter reflecting the light?
Or perhaps an implanted ultra violet sensitive pigment that reacts when that Marinara Police check the authenticity of a so named restaurant dish?

hungryandfrozen said...

Loooove the title for your post, it cracked me up...wouldn't mind a bowlful of that myself.

grocer said...

the only other thing I can think off (as gobbler has covered it so extensively) is phosphoresence - seen on the top of water in the evening in the whitsundays. Why blue, in your fridge I have no idea. Unless you put special mushrooms in your spaghetti?