Smoked salmon carbonara is an easy spin on traditional pasta carbonara. Made the authentic way, without cream, this smoked salmon pasta dish is creamy, decadent, easy to make and on the table in under 20 minutes.
I just want to start by saying this recipe for smoked salmon carbonara is definitely indulgent! We do aim provide you guys with healthy veggie-focused meals here, but let’s be honest – life is about balance, and that means sometimes there’s pasta carbonara.
What is carbonara?
If you are not familiar with it, carbonara is a pasta dish that originated in Italy. The traditional ingredients are egg, hard cheese, pancetta and pepper.
Because we are pescatarian around here, we dropped the bacon and added smoked salmon as a substitute.
How to make carbonara
The hallmark of a really great carbonara sauce is a rich, silky, creamy sauce. A lot of people think that cream is used to get this consistency, but traditionally it is not included in a carbonara sauce.
The secret to a perfect silky carbonara sauce comes down to 2 things: egg yolks, and technique which means cooking the eggs onto the pasta without scrambling them.
The number one thing to consider when cooking carbonara sauce is this: you can always add more heat in, but you can’t take it out so start at a lower temperature than you may think necessary.
This recipe is for 2 people, but if you are serving more you can easily double or triple the recipe.
Because this pasta comes together so quickly and requires precise attention I like to make sure that I have all my ingredients on hand and ready to use before I start.
Once you have rounded up your ingredients preparation goes as follows:
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. I use sea salt, and I like to add enough salt that the water tastes a bit salty – this will flavour the pasta well.
When your water is boiling put your spaghetti into the pot and cook according to the package directions.
While the pasta is cooking, whisk up your eggs, add the cracked black pepper and set aside.
When the pasta has finished cooking, reserve about 1/2 cup of cooking water from the pot and drain the pasta.
Place the hot pot on a burner that is not turned on – you don’t want to add any heat to pot right now, just work with the residual heat from cooking the pasta.
Place the pasta back into the pot and add the butter along with about 1 tbsp of the reserved cooking water. Toss quickly to coat the pasta.
Add the eggs to the pot and begin to stir it into the pasta vigorously. The goal here is to heat the eggs slowly to prevent scrambling. As the egg mixture begins to heat up it should thicken up. If the sauce is not thickening, you can place the pot back on the burner at the lowest heat while stirring the pasta constantly. What you want to do is heat up the bottom of the pot.
When the sauce begins to thicken, stir in the parmesan cheese, and continue to cook the pasta until the sauce is heated through. You can repeat the process of putting the pot back on the heated element for 30 seconds or so as many times as necessary to cook the sauce. When the sauce is properly cooked the egg with have thickened, but will not be dry.
Just before serving, stir the strips of smoked salmon into the pasta.
Garnish with the chopped chives when serving.
Tips for the best carbonara sauce
- Remove your eggs from the fridge and put them on the counter a couple of hours before you want to prepare the pasta. If the eggs have time to get to room temperature before you incorporate them to the pot, there will be less of difference in temperature between the pasta and the eggs which will help the sauce come together quicker and easier.
- Take your pot off the heat source before you add the eggs. You want to use the residual heat from the pot to cook the sauce. If the sauce isn’t thickening and you need to add more heat, place the pot back on the element for a few seconds while stirring. You only want to heat up the bottom of the pan here. If your stove is gas, use the lowest possible setting for heat, and remember the heat principle – you can always add it, but you can’t take it away
- If you add too much heat to the pot, the eggs will scramble. This will result in a dry pasta that is not silky or creamy.
- smoked salmon carbonara is best served immediately after it is prepared – for best results make this recipe just prior to when you plan to eat it.
This recipe for smoked salmon carbonara is suitable for the following diets:
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MORE SEAFOOD RECIPES YOU’LL LOVE
If you like this smoked salmon carbonara, you might want to check out some of our other seafood recipes:
- Buffalo shrimp lettuce wraps
- Vietnamese Shrimp Salad
- Greek shrimp with tomatoes and feta
- Easy fIsh tacos
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Smoked Salmon Carbonara
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- 7 ounces spaghetti
- 3.5 g smoked salmon (cut into 1/2 inch strips)
- 1 large egg
- 3 egg yolks
- 1⁄2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- 1 Tablespoon butter
- 1.5 teaspoons cracked black pepper
- sea salt
- 2 teaspoons chopped chives
- Cook the pasta spaghetti according to package directions.
- While the pasta is cooking, whisk together the egg, egg yolks and pepper.
- When the pasta is finished cooking reserve about 1/2 cup of the cooking water and set aside
- Strain the pasta, and place the pasta back into the pot it was cooked in but keep it off the hot burner.
- Place the butter along with 1 tbsp of the reserved cooking water into the pot with the pasta and stir to coat.
- Add the egg mixture to the pasta and stir vigorously. The goal here is to cook the egg sauce onto the pasta without scrambling it.
- The sauce is cooked by the residual heat from the pot bottom. If the sauce is not thickening after 5 minutes of stirring, the pot should be heated again. Place the pot back on to a heated burner (lowest heat) and continue to stir the pasta so the egg does not scramble.
- When the sauce begins to thicken, add the parmesan cheese and continue to cook until the sauce is heated through and thickened.
- Add the salmon strips to the pasta and stir to combine.
- Serve garnished with chopped chives