Cooking the basics like rice and pasta is the first thing I learned when I started experimenting in the kitchen as a young girl.
Although there are different techniques that people use to yield the best results, there is one thing almost everyone does the same way: drain the pasta.
Almost every household in America has a colander that is used to drain the pasta water down the sink. However, if you've been doing this, it's time that you stop because you've been making a big mistake all these years.
According to Bon Appetit, the cloudy pasta water, or as they call it, "liquid gold," has another very useful purpose that will change how you cook.
Apparently, it can be used to elevate the sauce that will be accompanying the noodles. Confused? Let me explain.
During the pasta cooking process, the starch from the flour that the noodles are made out of seep into the water, making it appear murky and tricking us into thinking it is unfit to be used for anything else.
Turns out, this liquid is just the thing you need for emulsification, which results in a silky smooth sauce with the perfect consistency.
You're probably wondering why emulsification is even important. Well, it actually makes a big difference in the way your sauce tastes and holds up. The process binds together the oil and water so they won't separate on your plate and create a watery puddle at the bottom.
Adding just a ladlefull of pasta water into your sauce will not only combine the oil and water, it will also thicken the sauce so you won't have to bother adding extra flour, cornstarch or cream, all of which can alter the taste of your dish if you used excessively.
While this might seem like a new concept to some, many professional chefs, including Jamie Oliver, have been using this method to create some fantastic pasta dishes.
Serious Eats did an experiment to determine whether or not people can tell the difference between a regular sauce and one cooked using pasta water, and the latter won.
Before you get too excited, there are a few things you should know that will help you make the most out of your pasta water.