Yin Yang Pasta

yin yang pasta tomato meat sauce creamy chicken corn

I love western world-influenced HK and Taiwan-style food, and I also love the eastern world-influenced North American food found in abundance here in the Pacific Northwest.  I’m not exactly sure which category this dish belongs in.

One of my favourite meals at the Cattle Cafe is their yin yang fried rice, a bed of rice topped with a tomato meat sauce on one half and a creamed corn chicken sauce on the other.  On the east-to-west scale I’d say their dish is a bit more west than ‘traditional’ yin yang/honeymoon fried rice.  Meanwhile, another restaurant here called the Old Spaghetti Factory serves ‘pot-pourri spaghetti’, which is topped with their meat sauce, mushroom sauce, and clam sauce draped side-by-side.  I’m sure there are several other similar dishes of which I am not aware.  This recipe is inspired by all of the above.

Here I have topped pasta with one kind of red sauce and one kind of white sauce, though they are far from ‘authentic’ enough to respectively qualify as ‘bolognese’ and ‘alfredo’ sauces.  But who cares.  I am by no means putting this recipe at the level of bánh mì or California rolls, but if culinary authenticity was such a golden rule we’d be missing out on some tasty things.

Don’t let the length of this recipe fool you.  This is, in fact, a fairly quick recipe and does not dirty up a lot of dishes!


Yin Yang Pasta

Adapted in part from Manila Spoon and Cooking with Dog

Serves: 4
Time: 1 1/2 hours

For the sweet garlic corn sauce:

  • 1 Tbsp oil
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 200 g boneless, skinless chicken thighs, sliced thinly
  • 5 button or crimini mushrooms, sliced
  • 200 ml cream style corn (1/2 regular can)
  • 175 ml evaporated milk (1/2 regular can)
  • 1/4 cup green peas (fresh, thawed from frozen, or from a can)
  • salt, to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the pasta:

  • 350 g dry pasta
    (Anything will work.  I just happened to have fusilli on hand.)
  • a splash of oil (optional)

For the spicy tomato sauce:

  • 1 Tbsp oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 300 g lean ground meat (beef or pork)
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp ground chili powder (such as ancho)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 pinch ground cumin
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup tomato ketchup
  • 1-2 cups boiling water, from the pasta pot
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • salt, to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For garnish (optional):

  • fresh parsley, chopped
  • parmesan cheese, grated or the powdered stuff

For the sweet garlic corn sauce:

  1. In a pan over medium heat, fry the 5 cloves of garlic in 1 Tbsp oil for about 20 seconds, just until the garlic is fragrant.
  1. Add the chicken and stir-fry until no longer raw, when the chicken is no longer pink on the inside.


Something like this.  It doesn’t need to be browned.

  1. Add the mushrooms and stir-fry until they have lost most of their moisture and darkened.
  1. Stir in the creamed corn and cook for another 2-3 minutes to give the corn a little direct pan contact.


Awwww yeeeeee you can see the bubbling.

  1. Add the evaporated milk and mix everything well.  Let the sauce come up to a boil, then turn the heat down to medium-low.  Simmer for 10 minutes to thicken, stirring occasionally.
  1. Fold in the peas then let them warm through by simmering for 2-3 minutes.
  1. Add salt and pepper to taste.  Turn the heat down to low to keep warm until serving, or (if your number of pans or space is limited) set sauce aside in a large bowl.

For the pasta:

  1. In a big pot of salted, boiling water, start to cook the pasta according to its package’s directions.
  1. Ideally the pasta will still be cooking when you are at the final steps of the tomato sauce, as the sauce will need 1-2 cups of the starched water added to it for both volume and thickening.  If not, reserve 2 cups of the boiling water before you drain the pasta after cooking.
  1. Drain the pasta and (optional) toss with a little bit of oil to prevent sticking.

For the spicy tomato sauce:

  1. In another pan over medium heat, fry the 3 cloves garlic in 1 Tbsp oil for about 20 seconds, just until fragrant.
  1. Add the ground meat, break it up in the pan with a spoon, and stir-fry until cooked.
  1. Add the bell pepper and stir-fry for another 3 minutes.
  1. Add the oregano and spices and mix thoroughly into the meat mixture.
  1. Stir in the tomato paste and tomato ketchup until all ingredients in the pan are well-coated and the sauce has lost some of the ‘bite’ from the tangy tomato products, about 1-2 minutes.

??????????This temporary meat & tomato paste will blossom into a sauce.

  1. Pour in 1 cup of the boiling pasta water and stir.  If the sauce it too thick, add up to another 1 cup of pasta water.  I added 1 1/2 cups total today.
  1. Turn off the heat.  Add soy sauce as well as salt and pepper, to taste.


  1. In a large, round serving dish, lay down a layer of the cooked pasta.  I used a pie dish!
  1. Onto one half of the pasta, add the sweet garlic corn sauce.  In doing this you can fill in a simple semi-circle shape or get fancy by crafting the yin and yang logo.
  1. To the other half of the pasta, add the spicy tomato sauce.
  1. (Optional) Top everything with parsley and parmesan.
  1. Serve hot as a family-style main.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s