EH KULANTAI AMMA CAN MAKE IT AT HOME FOR NOTHING – Marinara Sauce and a Trio of Molluscs

I asked the kids what they would like to eat this coming weekend.

Monster Boy asked me “ can we have marinara sauce with Spaghetti?”

When it comes to cooking, I turn into a well meaning suffocating Indian Mother.

“Eh Kulantai, vai you eat outside ? Amma can make anything.

Marinara sauce ?


I can make it at home for nothing”


Marinara Sauce

So Marinara sauce is the base sauce made predominantly of tomatoes used in many pasta dishes:

Marinara (English: “mariner’s”) sauce is a tomato sauce, usually made with tomatoes, garlic, herbs, and onions.Its many variations can include the addition of capers, olives, spices, and a dash of wine.

In Italy, alla marinara properly refers to a sauce made with tomatoes, basil, oregano and sometimes olives, capers and salted anchovies; it is used for spaghetti and vermicelli, but also with meat or fish.

This is not to be confused with spaghetti marinara, a popular dish in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa where a tomato-based sauce is mixed with fresh seafood. In Italy a pasta sauce including seafood is more commonly called alla pescatora.



How to make Marinara Sauce

There are so many recipes you can find on the Internet so go ahead and experiment. But they don’t vary that much so don’t get too stressed about following the recipes to a T.

Before you even start, play Peter Frampton “Baby I love your way ” the acoustic version.

Otherwise your Marinara just won’t taste the same.

Here is what I did (feeds 6 monsters):

1. I used a flat based heavy bottomed pasta pan to make my sauces. No real magic to it though – you can use any pan big enough to have some depth for the sauces or any pot.

I paid good money for that heavy thing so use lah.

2. Heat up a generous dash of olive oil . Ok – if one has to be pedantic, I generally would estimate about one to two spoon per head so six to 12 spoons of olive oil.

Ask me tomorrow and I may say sometime else. It’s irritating I know but I am classically trained in the “agakration” method.

“agak” and “agak-agak” can mean many things. Among the words in English that can describe it are: “to guess”, “supposition”, “quite”, “presumably”, “it seems to be” and “probably”. These words all promote some manner of vagueness or uncertainty, and this very vagueness is the ironic, iconic meaning of “agak-agak”, and it could very well be attributed as justifiably to the vagueness in general of Manglish and Malaysians.

The Manglish Dictionary

3. Fry up one whole chopped yellow onions and 4 cloves of minced garlic.

Tip – always sautee the onions first for about 1 to 2 minutes to make it soft and “sweat” out the juices before adding the garlic . Minced garlic takes next to no time to cook and you don’t want it to burn and give an acrid taste to the dish.

Whenever you are adding minced garlic, be ready to throw in the next ingredients fast once you see the garlic browning. The garlic will brown in less than 10 to 20 seconds.

4. Add one can of diced tomatoes and one can peeled whole tomatoes. Again, no stress- whatever u have in your cupboard. I personally like to mash up whole peeled tomatoes in the pan so that the tomatoes look chunky and irregular and rustic at the end. Temperamental and artistic.

Using Diced tomatoes alone just means your dish would look neat and tidy. Nerd.

Even canned tomato paste works but all you would get at the end is this smooth lifeless concoction. It’s tragic and you would be inflicted with 7 years of mediocre sex so please use diced or whole canned tomatoes.

Do Not use tomato ketchup you imbecile – it’s full of extra sugar and salt u don’t need and it will taste syrupy and synthetic at the end.

Your child and family dog will disown you and 14 years of bad sex will invariably follow like night into day.

5. At this point I like to add a quarter cup of white wine and let it simmer to add taste. But this is purely optional.

Adding quarter cup just gives you an excuse to drink the other 3/4 that you poured.

It makes you more cheery and your food tastes better.

6. Add in 2 Bay leaves. Again don’t sweat it if you don’t have Bay leaves. Do not try to add other leaves.

The dry leaves that you picked from your garden may look like Bay leaves but they are not.

Hibiscus and dried poop from your pooch does not go well with marinara.

7. If you are using dried oregano or thyme or basil you can add in at this stage. But if you are using fresh herbs, I prefer to add only at the end.

8. Simmer for 20 minutes. Add a little water if the sauce looks too thick.

9. At the end of 20 minutes, add fresh herbs like fresh plucked thyme, chopped oregano or basil. I say “or” but add in all 3 if you have them on hand. I am reliably informed by trusted sources that ménage a trois is always good and exciting.

10. Season with salt and pepper. Go easy on the salt (maybe start with one teaspoon and add more later if desired) as the addition of parmesan cheese at the end will add to the saltiness.

11. Add sugar one tablespoon at a time. I would agak one to three tablespoon but taste taste taste in between.

The aim is to get a hint of saltiness and sweetness which is nicely balanced. One should not overpower the other.

This to me is a crucial step. It will decide whether your kids’s faces will light up with joy or you will become second favourite parent.

Get the balance right.

Yin and Yang, Ebony and Ivory, Romeo and Juliet.

You get the drift.

12. This step is optional . I like to throw in cherry tomatoes cut into half or quartered to give the dish a bit of a crunch. Simmer 3-5 minutes.

13. At the end of about 30 minutes in total, turn off the heat and grate a generous amount of parmesan cheese to give your dish a nutty and sophisticated finish.

If you don’t have parmesan in your fridge, you’re a fool and deserve no sex for 21 years.

The Seafood

If you wanted to add in seafood into your dish, you could add in the cut seafood and fry them up once your garlic browns, just before adding the canned tomatoes.

But I prefer to taste the freshness of the tomatoes and fresh herbs in my sauce so I pan fried the seafood separately.

Just to make life more difficult.

I pan fried big prawns (Seasoned with Worcester sauce, honey, some mustard, pepper and salt) and scallops (seasoned with just salt and pepper) and placed it artistically over the pasta and the fresh marinara sauce when plating.

I repeat. Artistically.

Tidak taste mesti style ada

Loosely translated “No taste die die must have style”


Trio of Molluscs

Trio of Molluscs – I imagine that’s what an atas Michelin restaurant will come out with to make the dish more mysterious and alluring.

But in reality it just means I bumped into different types of clams at the market and decided to make “Le Hum 3 ways “.


And I spooned the clams over a slab of deep fried tofu.

Imagine the clams sitting on an idyllic beach (the grainy browny fried tofu ) resplendent and awash with briny flavours – is what atas Michelin restaurant would say.

Tofu stall next to clams stall in the market so my beady eyes saw tofu.

So buy lah.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s