Al dente spaghetti


Many people are afraid of making pasta because of their earlier, failed experiences of boiling the perfect pasta and especially spaghetti.

Some expensive, high class restaurant still failed in this art of getting the spaghetti to be just al dente, i.e. not too hard and not too mushy. There is nothing more turn off than to pay for a lot of money and when you ask for ‘al dente’, the waiter goes…”huh? our sauce is tomato”. *roll eyes*

Al dente means –

The term comes from Italian and means “to the tooth” or “to the bite”, referring to the need to chew the pasta due to its firmness. The term is also very commonly used as a name for Italian restaurants around the world. (source : wiki)

Both hubby and I are very particular in getting our pasta to taste just right the right bite. Therefore, if you are buying pasta, always pay more for pasta from Italy with durum wheat as the ingredient. Never settle for cheaper ones from the hypermarket. I had got a batch of mushy macaroni and swear off forever from buying pasta that costs two bucks cheaper.


The other thing that most people have problem is figuring out how much pasta is needed per person. A regular pack of say, spaghetti usually weighs 500 grams. 500 grams normally can feed 6 regular (Asian) eaters. However, if you look at recipe books, they normally say it is enough for four.

I had been to Italy for almost a month and after looking at the portion those Italians serve, I think I will grow very fat if I eat like them.

Boiling long pasta like spaghetti needs the right pot. I do not have that. So I normally use my wok and fill it with water and let it boil vigorously. Then, I add in a teaspoon of salt and generous amount of olive oil. After that, add the spaghetti.

Now, the tricky part is following the instructions on the packet. Many of the brands use marketing gimmicks like ‘quick boil, serves in five minutes’ etc to get people to choose their brands. The best way to know if you spaghetti if just al dente is to keep testing it.


It shouldn’t have a hard middle part. So, keep testing, strand by strand until you feel a nice bite to is and strain the pasta immediately. Pour some olive oil to keep it from sticking together.

Boiling smaller size pasta takes lesser time and it is only with some trials you get to learn how long it takes to get the right pasta.

When you have mastered the art of boiling spaghetti, you will discover that it is one of the easiest food to prepare. Just a sprinkle of salt, pepper and olive oil with some cheese on top will make it delicious already.


1) Use lots of water
2) Leave water to boil vigorously before adding pasta
3) Keep checking and tasting if the pasta is cooked

Post Author: Lilian

Food, travel, recipes. Chinese Malaysian, blogger, photographer and writer.

5 thoughts on “Al dente spaghetti


    (April 12, 2008 - 5:42 am)

    Thanks for the tips! I am getting the hang of making al-dente pasta but sometimes I still screw up 😛 Happens when I try to undercook a bit before adding to the sauce and continue to cook.


    (April 12, 2008 - 5:35 pm)

    Tip by a Chef, to check speg if cook, throw a strand of speg to the tile wall, if it stick to the wall, its cooked, if it slide down the wall, keep on boiling.


    (April 12, 2008 - 5:40 pm)

    My favourite brand after trying out numerous brands is Barilla, followed by Dececco & Bella Italia. San Remo & Buitoni just dont cut it.

    I discovered the perfect cooking method for my pasta, 1L of water to every 100g pasta, and 1 tsp of salt.

    Some purists believe that olive oil is not to be added in the boiling water, as this prevents that layer of starch from holding up your sauces. I tend to agree 😛


    (April 15, 2008 - 12:35 am)

    The funny part of buying Italian pasta here is , its always says, made with the finest Canadian durum semolina hehehe.. so we ship our wheat to Italy , have them sell back to us at a premium.


    (April 17, 2008 - 12:12 am)

    romantic – Hahaha, what a big round the wheat went.

    anon – Thanks for telling me that. A few days ago, I boiled the pasta without oil and indeed, it seems to ‘gel’ with the sauce better.

    snapshot – LOL, then my whole ceiling will have pastas hanging as decor.

    durianberry – Remember the other two tips from snapshot and anon.

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