Like the raw seafood, this recipe is one of the symbols of Bari gastronomy. Here's how to prepare them respecting the tradition religiously and where to eat them in the city
Burnt, crunchy, spicy: these are the three fundamental characteristics of killer spaghetti, one of the typical dishes of the city of Bari. There is no need to kill someone to prepare this dish. The name murderess it is linked to his cooking technique, the risottotto of the pasta, to be respected religiously. Here's how to prepare this dish at home and where to eat the best performances in Bari.
Felice Giovine, historian of Apulian cuisine, given the Assassina around the end of the sixties, in the center of Bari, at the Al Sorso Favorite restaurant. However, contrary to popular belief, this is not a recovery dish, «like Sunday pasta, ragù pasta, sautéed in a pan and scorched. Because spaghetti are not eaten on Sundays in Puglia , explains Sandro Romano. Among the false legends there are those who attributed the authorship of the dish to the Marc’Aurelio restaurant, now closed. The truth is that when the owners of Al Sorso Favorite acquired the adjacent restaurant – a former rotisserie – they found the Assassin's recipe on paper and decided to propose it again.
The Academy of the Assassin and the iron pan
Killer noodles are a religion here in Bari, enough to justify the existence of a dedicated academy and a counter academy. These are lovers and experts of this dish who strive to enhance it through monthly meetings that revolve around sharing and conviviality. They are staunch defenders of the use of the black iron pan, an indispensable tool for the preparation of the Assassin according to tradition and the Academy. It is an oiled pan, burnt and never washed. Newspaper was used to clean it, so that it did not lose all the fat. The president of the Assassin Academy, Massimo Dell’Erba, advocates the use of the iron pan because it has more heat conduction than normal. How do we put it with the safety rules in force, which would ban this object? Given that, for a domestic Assassin, Romano explains that "even a non-stick pan is fine", Dell’Erba points out: "The iron pans purchased on the market are illegal because they can release oxides or other substances. Then there are professional iron pans (the so-called lyonnaise) that are perfectly usable in catering .
The traditional recipe: ingredients
According to the recipe codified by the Accademia dell'Assassina, 320 grams of vermicelli or spaghetti, 400 grams of tomato puree, tomato paste, oil, garlic and sugar are required to prepare the dish for four people. The Academy recommends using pastes with little starch and avoiding those drawn in bronze. "Even if someone claims that the pasta should be blanched, the original recipe starts with dry spaghetti, rehydrated according to the risotto technique," explains Romano. The recipe requires a very high flame: the heat under the pan must be strong.
The traditional recipe: the preparation
Prepare and bring to the boil a broth made with water, 300 grams of puree and abundant tomato and salt concentrate. The sauce "must be bright red and tasty, but it must always be broth", the academics write. In the iron pan already treated for use, 100 cl of oil, three cloves of garlic deprived of the soul and chilli pepper to taste, said in Bari diavuìcchje should be placed. Dell’Erba suggests that they are two whole and one slightly chopped. Brown the garlic over a high flame, then pour a glass or less of tomato puree (100 grams). "It will splash everywhere is fine, but the killer is well worth the cause," adds the expert. To correct the acidity of the tomato, a teaspoon of sugar is allowed. Spread the puree with a wooden spoon over the whole pan and let it slightly consume. At this point, put the spaghetti raw in a pan, distributing them so that the pasta is in contact with the sauce. "Here the detachment and coldness of the chef begin to be necessary," explains Dell’Erba. "You must not be in a hurry to turn it over, you have to wait for some spaghetti to start their browning process, without charring, but caramelizing".
With skill and skill turn the spaghetti which begin to stick a little on the bottom of the pan, bringing on those already browned. At this point, pour two medium-sized ladles of this tomato sauce with a brothy consistency into the pan. The liquid will sizzle and begin to simmer. Let it consume, without turning the spaghetti and "listen" to the start of cooking. When you hear "sizzle again" (the noise changes sharply), you have to stay "cold" and allow a few tens of seconds for the "scorching" process to continue. Repeat the operation to bring up the more scorched spaghetti, adding more tomato liquid. Each addition must correspond to the time necessary to sizzle the preparation and then repeat by wetting the pasta with the sauce. The stiff noodle that it was, will begin to fold. The whole process will take about 8-9 minutes. This is why it is said that the Assassin "must suffer".
Eventually you will discover that the spaghetti is more callous and inviting under the teeth, with a very different consistency than the boiled one. But only those who are scorched must "crocchia". The degree of cooking and burning is up to you. "You must have an eye and taste," explains the president of the Academy. "When you have decided that in your opinion the Assassin is ready then serve directly bringing the pan to the table. Remember: killer spaghetti is a theory, not a simple dish. It appears disarming simplicity, but it needs attention, care and detachment . When Joe Bastianich tasted this dish, prepared by the Bari chef Almo Bibolotti, competing to access the section All Stars, he called it an "extraterrestial" dish. If you are not sure you can do it alone, there are also workshops dedicated to killer spaghetti. Massimo Dell’Erba also holds Assassin lessons in the laboratories organized in Bari by Cime di Web.
Variations to the original recipe
Who is from Bari would never dream of playing to change the Assassin's recipe. Indeed, here rigor is a matter of respect. But you know, cooking is contamination, fun. There is someone who made the Turnip Assassin, who adds stracciatella (sacrilege for academics). There are two recipes created by Massimo Dell’Erba: the Assassina di Mare and the one with fried Nolche olives. For the marine version, squid and prawns are used, a bisque made with the heads of crustaceans, to which you can add a little ciambotto, a typically Apulian fish stew. From these ingredients you get a fish cartoon, with which we will cook spaghetti, following the procedure we have seen before. For the Assassina with Nolche olives, the latter are sautéed with cherry tomatoes and chili peppers, oil and sauce are added, the olives are removed with a skimmer and the sauce is lengthened with salted water. Then proceed as usual, but using this fried olive broth. In the end, the latter are added, partly whole, partly pitted. There is also the variant of Spaghetti focaccia, created by Sandro Romano. This is a non-spicy version that however brings all the scents of the Bari focaccia to the table. «It is prepared by baking cherry tomatoes, seasoned with olives and oregano, which I am going to put on the plate when I serve it. Even in the variants, scorching is de rigueur.
The places in Bari where to taste the real recipe
During his patrolling patrols among the locals of Bari, the Academy came to an important truth. "The Assassin is not always good at the same venue. It depends on the number of diners. If there are many, we prefer spaghetti with vermicello, but above all the pasta is blanched . So even the same place must be tried several times. Because Assassin, like Carbonara, is fickle and not always replicable. Here is a selection of exquisitely Bari restaurants and all rigorously approved by the Accademia dell'Assassina and Sandro Romano.
Al Sorso Favorite
Everything was born here. So, for those in search of the primordial flavors of the Assassin, they must go to the mecca of this dish.
Al Sorso Favorite, Via Vito Nicola De Nicolò, 40, 70121 Bari (Ba)
In via Lucarelli Giampà prepares an Assassina with fresh spicy cherry tomato, but following the recipe slavishly.
Giampà, Via Antonio Lucarelli, 82, 70124 Bari (Ba)
Here, in addition to a rich fish cuisine, the Assassina seems almost a kind concession to the Bari tradition. But the execution is good, good … to die for.
La Battigia restaurant, Lungomare Araldo di Crollalanza, 1, 70121 Bari (Ba)
At Chez Jo, killer spaghetti can also be enjoyed with a sprig of stracciatella, to soften the spicy.
Chez Jo, Viale Luigi Einaudi, 69, 70125 Bari (Ba)
Their is among the most famous executions of the city, also available with a tuft of smoked burrata for the palates more intolerant of spicy.
Escodirado Bistrot, Extension of via Tupputi 18-20-22, Bari (Ba)
This restaurant in Poggiofranco, in the Sheraton area, seems to have little to do with catering, but the killer spaghetti that you can eat here are among the reference points for lovers of the dish.
Superpizza, Via Nicola Angelini, 12, 70124 Bari (Ba)
Ai 2 Ghiottoni
Among Mediterranean fish specialties, served in elegant rooms with large arches, paintings and exposed brick walls, another unmissable Assassin of the city is born in the kitchen of this historic Bari restaurant.
Ai 2 Ghiottoni, Via Nicolò Putignani, 11 / b, 70121 Bari (Ba)
Pizzeria the other Bari Naples
In addition to pizza, made in the Neapolitan style and not the new Apulian wave, cooked in a wood oven and also available by the meter, here you can eat demon-killing spaghetti which is traditionally demonic.
Pizzeria L'altra Bari Naples, Via Nicola Tridente, 29, 70125 Bari (Ba)
Urban – Weight Kitchen
Urban – Cucina a Peso is the first buffet by weight in Puglia. Here you can eat what you want, in social tables, paying according to the quantity consumed. The water is free and you can take what you bought home. The Accademia dell’Assassina has tried both their traditional and turnip tops versions, promoting the venue among the chosen group of the best performers in Bari.
Urban – Kitchen in Peso, Via Domenico Nicolai, 10, 70122 Bari (Ba)
Ghiotto Food was the place that patented Assassina with turnip greens. To make it, an emulsion of the vegetable is used, seasoned with chili pepper, mixed in a pan with the spaghetti, but boiled (but al dente). The creaming is pushed to the extreme to create the essential scorch marks.
Ghiotto Food, Viale Papa Pio XII, 43, 70124 Bari (Ba)
Gola Gourmet Kitchen
Recent new entry among the favorite places for Assassin lovers, Gola Gourmet is an informal place where, in the full southern tradition, everyone can feel at ease. Here the killer spaghetti remain faithful to tradition, even if they define their recipe as "a right compromise between the sensation of spiciness and crunchiness. Never too dry, burnt or salted with a little fat and pleasant cherry tomato sauce even for the most polite palates .
Gola Gourmet Kitchen, Via Camillo Rosalba, 47 / K, 70124 Bari BA
Text by Stefania Leo
Opening photo Sandro Romano.
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