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pasta with salmon and vodka

April 16, 2010

Not so long ago, I used to work travel quite a bit to Moscow for work.  Moscow didn’t agree with me.  Inevitably, I dreaded trips there knowing that either:

a) something bad would happen along the lines of finding a homeless person sleeping outside my room, almost getting killed by a taxi driver or having to fly a pre-cold war Soviet plane that didn’t seem fit for the friendly skies (all of these things happened, but are tales for another day).


b) I would catch the Moscow plague.

The Moscow plague is a condition that I invented as a means of describing the full-body shutdown I would have the moment I stepped foot off the plane in Moscow and “magically” disappear once I returned to Switzerland.  Pounding head, congestion, inability to breathe.  Like I said, Moscow didn’t agree with me.  After my first visit, I always made sure to have an arsenal of drugs that I could take to combat these symptoms, but the first time…oh boy.  I asked to go to the pharmacy for pills.  Unable to speak Russian, I brought a Russian colleagues along with me.  Unable to read Russian, I left with medicine that upon further investigation was banned in “most first-world countries in the 80s, but was reintroduced in the 90s for veterinary purposes.”  Fab.  When I asked other Russian colleagues for suggestions, there was one that kept coming up time and again…vodka.  I never ended up hitting the vodka for relief, but I will admit to taking a few of those horse pills (they really worked).  As a compromise to my colleagues who insisted I was really missing out, I bought a bottle that I was assured was quality vodka to enjoy at home.

I’m not a big hard-alcohol drinker, so I’ve found other creative uses for it.  Namely, this pasta.  I’ve made it enough that almost my entire liter bottle is gone.  Not bad.  If you do use this recipe, try to use a decent vodka, it does make a difference.  But don’t go to Moscow for it, a trip to Sweden should be just fine.

Pasta with salmon and vodka


  • 1 box pasta of choice
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • half medium onion chopped
  • 200 grams/7 ounces smoked salmon
  • 1 can of chopped tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup quality vodka
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 1/3 cup parmigiano
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • salt
  • olive oil
  • 1 tbsp butter


  1. Chop onion finely.
  2. Heat 1 tbsp butter and olive oil in a heavy bottom sauce pan over medium-high heat
  3. Add onions and red pepper flakes.  Cook until onions are soft, but not browned (about 6-7 minutes).
  4. Add salmon and mix together.  Cook an addition 1-2 minutes.
  5. Add vodka, allow to cook for 30-45 seconds.
  6. Add tomatoes, cream, parmigiano and pinch of nutmeg, mix together.  Add salt to taste (you can also add more parmigiano as well for added taste).
  7. Allow to simmer while you cook the pasta (about 12 minutes).
  8. Drain pasta and add salmon vodka sauce.  Toss together.
  9. Serve immediately with added parmigiano.

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