Do you kill people for hire?

If so, you might like this dish.

Spaghetti All’assassino (Spaghetti of the Assassins) is possibly the best pasta dish I have ever eaten. On our last night in Matera, we had dinner with friends and they introduced me to this devilish concoction.

Like many traditional Lucanian dishes it is simple with a twist. In this case the twist is heat — of all kinds. Basically you undercook a bunch of spaghetti then throw it into scalding hot oil olive. (Stand back, it pops.) This chars the outer “nest” of pasta and cooks the inner pasta to completion. As this is happening you dump in cooked tomatoes and peperoncino in powder. That’s it. A fiery combo of crunchy on the outside and al dente in the middle.


I cooked the dish last night and screwed up approximately half of it. The tomatoes burned and I got the outer shell a bit too hard. But this is how we learn.

Here’s the recipe. It serves four.

400 grams of spaghetti
300g fresh baby tomatoes
virgin olive oil for frying (at least a cup)
peperoncino in powder to taste

  1. Cut the baby tomatoes in half and fry in very hot oil for about 6/7 minutes, they should get a bit mushy but not brown, add salt. You need to do this in a large deep frying pan.
  2. Cook the spaghetti until really ‘al dente’ – if it says 8 minutes on the pack, take them out at 5.
  3. Drain the pasta really well and pour into the tomatoes and boiling oil (if the oil is hot enough it will make a big noise). Add peperoncino and stir a little to get oil around all the spaghetti.
  4. Leave for about 2/3 minutes before stirring/moving around/turning the burned parts around and then leave again for another 2/3 minutes. If you stir continuously the crusty brown bits don’t get formed.
  5. DON’T add parmesan.

Thanks for Mikaela Bandini for introducing me to the dish and for the recipe.