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May 6, 2009 02:42 PM

Fresh restaurant pasta: translucent and delicately chewy. Why?

When I order fresh or house-made pasta at a restaurant, I get a pasta that's slightly translucent and has a lightly rubbery bite. It's heavenly.

When I make it at home, although it's very good indeed, it's floury white in color and tender without the delicate chewiness. I've tried AP flour and semolina flour and varying combinations of the two. I've tried making it without eggs, but no luck. I'm beginning to suspect that the restaurant "fresh pasta" is made off-premises via some sort of commercial process which I can't duplicate at home. Maybe the process is similar to that which is used making wonton skins, as a fresh wonton skin is much more similar to restaurant fresh pasta than the homemade pasta I make at home.

Does anyone have any secrets to share so that I can achieve a restaurant-quality result?

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  1. I use mostly AP flour and a little semolina and my pasta is golden and translucent. Are you rolling by hand or using a machine. Machines are easier to get a consistent thinness.
    Basic dough: 1 1/2 c. AP flour, 1/2 cup fine semolina, 3 eggs. That's it. No oil, no salt, no water (unless dough looks super dry) Toss in kitchen-aid w/ dough hook and you're good to go. adam

    4 Replies
    1. re: adamshoe

      I use a machine and that's pretty much my recipe, except I've always added salt. Next time maybe I'll leave the salt out and see if it makes a difference.

      1. re: teela brown

        Also, make sure you knead the dough long enough (my recipe says to knead for a full 8 minutes), which will help with the texture and with rolling it out in terms of getting it thin enough. What kind of pasta machine are you using?

        1. re: teela brown

          I don't think salt will make a difference. It's definitely in the kneading (I knead for 10-12 min by hand) and resting. Min rest time should be 20 min but I go as long as 45 min. No rest, the dough will pull back and become very chewy to the point of rubbery upon cooking. I like mine fairly tender hence the longer rest time. Experiment with rest time to get it to your liking.

        2. re: adamshoe

          Oops, yes, I always rest the dough for at least 20-30 before proceeding w/ the thinning/rolling and use copious flour to ensure no sticking. adam

        3. If you are making this by machine, it's very easy to over knead the dough. This will make it very tough and difficult to roll - the resulting pasta will be too chewy. Reduce the kneading time or knead by hand (almost impossible to over-knead). To tell if the pasta is ready, cut the dough - small holes mean more kneading is necessary.

          Let the dough rest for at least 1/2 hour before rolling.

          1. It sounds like you know plenty about flours, but given what you're mentioning I think it could be totally worthwhile to read the excerpt that's viewable at Amazon of Cookwise...

            It is a marvelous section on the properties of different flours and the cooking result, tied in part to the glutinousness of different varieties. (And even if it doesn't answer your question, it's a heck of a tidbit of knowledge for other cooking exploits.)

            1. Try making pasta dough by hand instead of using machine. That's how good, fresh restaurant pasta is made - on a cool marble or steel tabletop. Don't over knead (a big failing of bread machines which are for making bread not pasta). The only machine you need is a rolling machine unless you've got spacers on your rolling pin.

              1. I use Hazan's recipe of eggs and unbleached flour BUT I put 1/2 of that and 1/2 00 flour. Makes it a bit harder to knead but I like it. I haven't yet tried using all 00 but an Italian man who owns a restaurant in San Francisco told me he'd never use any flour except 00.