Paški sir, the sheep cheese used in the Dalmatian version of Cacio e Pepe, is a traditional product of the island of Pag, located off the coast of Zadar, Croatia. The island has a unique landscape with rugged terrain and sparse vegetation, which gives the cheese its distinct flavor. Paški sir has been produced on the island for centuries and has become a significant part of the region's culinary heritage. The dish "Paški Špageti" or "Paški Paata" is a regional version of Cacio e Pepe, which showcases the flavors of the island's sheep cheese. The dish has become a popular and iconic dish in the region, reflecting the cultural importance of the island's cheese-making tradition.
Paški Pasta (Croatian Cacio e Pepe)
Selo Olive Oil
- 400g spaghetti or other long pasta
- 150g Paški sir cheese, grated
2 tsp whole black peppercorns
2 tbsp Croatian extra virgin olive oil
- Salt, to taste
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cook until al dente, according to package instructions.
- While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the whole black peppercorns and toast for 1-2 minutes, until fragrant.
- Remove the skillet from the heat and use a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder to crush the black peppercorns.
- Add about 1/2 cup of pasta water to the skillet with the crushed black pepper and stir to combine.
- Drain the spaghetti, reserving about 1 cup of the pasta water. Add the spaghetti to the skillet with the pepper and oil, tossing to combine.
- Add about 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water to the skillet and continue to toss the spaghetti until the liquid has been absorbed.
- Turn off the heat and add the grated Paški sir cheese to the skillet. Toss the spaghetti until the cheese has melted and the pasta is coated in a creamy sauce.
- If the sauce is too thick, add more of the reserved pasta water, a few tablespoons at a time, until the desired consistency is reached.
- Serve hot, garnished with a sprinkle of freshly ground black pepper and extra grated Paški sir cheese, if desired.
To achieve a truly delectable and distinctive Dalmatian-style Paški Pasta, it's highly recommended that you remove the toasted black peppercorns, crush them, and then reintroduce them to the dish. This technique ensures that the spicy flavors of the peppercorns are perfectly distributed, adding a delicious kick to every bite of the pasta. Indulge in this incredibly flavorful experience!