Bucatini Talay

Al dente bucatini soaks up a hot and sour tom yum paste-laced sauce in this fresh seafood pasta.

Bucatini Talay

Christopher Testani / Food Styling by Chelsea Zimmer / Prop Styling by Lydia Pursell

Total Time:
35 mins
4 servings

There are very few dishes I am willing to get on a plane for, just to eat again. But I would sit in a metal tube in the sky a million times for a plate of chef Ann Ahmed’s Bucatini Talay. It’s a standout dish on a menu of standout dishes that form a bridge to her home country of Laos at her Minneapolis restaurant Khâluna. Some might be tempted to label the bucatini as "fusion," which these days often connotes a thoughtless mash-up of dishes from two cultures. This noodle dish, however, is so much more than smushing Laotian and Italian flavors together.

Talay, which translates to “sea” in Laotian, references the generous use of seafood. The sauce that clings to each noodle is luxurious but not too heavy, with a boost of flavor from tom yum paste, a hot and sour blend that includes tamarind, fragrant lemongrass, galangal, chiles, and shallots. 

It’s a dish that is comforting and yet, with its many layers of flavor, incredibly complex. Though the dish is neither “authentically” Laotian or Italian, it is 100% itself: an unapologetic bowl of flavor and innovation. — Khushbu Shah


  • 1/4 cup chile paste with soybean oil (see Note) 

  • 1/4 cup tom yum paste (see Note)

  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar

  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce

  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped lemongrass (from 1 stalk)

  • 1 teaspoon tamarind powder (see Note)

  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1 teaspoon thinly sliced fresh makrut lime leaves (1 to 2 leaves), divided

  • 8 ounces uncooked bucatini pasta

  • 1/2 cup olive oil

  • 2 teaspoons chopped garlic (about 2 garlic cloves)

  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

  • 8 ounces peeled and deveined tail-on raw jumbo shrimp

  • 1 cup cleaned and cut squid (tubes only) (about 6 ounces)

  • 5 sea scallops (about 3 1/2 ounces)

  • 1/4 cup loosely packed fresh Thai basil leaves, roughly chopped, plus more for garnish


  1. Stir together chile paste, tom yum paste, sugar, fish sauce, lemongrass, tamarind powder, salt, and 1/2 teaspoon sliced lime leaves in a medium bowl until combined. Set aside. (Mixture can be stored in an airtight container in refrigerator up to 3 days.)

  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high. Add pasta; cook according to package directions for al dente. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup cooking liquid.

  3. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium. Add garlic; cook, stirring often, until fragrant and golden brown, about 1 minute. Stir in tomatoes; cook, stirring often, until tomatoes soften and blister, about 3 minutes. Stir in 3 tablespoons reserved chile paste mixture. Cook, stirring constantly, until caramelized, about 2 minutes. Add shrimp, squid, and scallops; cook, stirring often, until opaque and cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes. Add basil, pasta, and reserved 1/2 cup cooking liquid; cook, stirring constantly, until sauce evenly coats pasta, 1 to 2 minutes. Divide evenly among 4 bowls. Garnish with remaining 1/2 teaspoon lime leaves and additional Thai basil. Serve immediately.


Chile paste and tom yum paste can be found at most Thai markets or at justasianfood.com. Tamarind powder can be found at most specialty spice stores or at woodlandfoods.com.

Suggested Pairing

Vibrant, lime-scented Australian Riesling: Jim Barry Watervale

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