Investing reminds me of cooking. Spaghetti aglio e olio, in particular. I still remember that for the longest time, my wife and I could never figure out how to cook a delicious plate of aglio olio.

Do you like aglio olio too? If you do, then you understand the anguish of ordering aglio olio when eating out. You never know what you’re gonna get!

I cook so much aglio olio that I never bother to take any photos of it. Here’s a random photo I grabbed off Instagram (credit to the user who posted it, click for her account).


Ah. A dish that looks deceptively simple to cook, right? Just spaghetti with garlic.

It didn’t take long for us to realize that the simpler something is, the harder it would be to master it. The emphasis falls on the little details and there is no way to cover up your mistakes once you make an error.

Practice is key. Yes, trial and error! There comes a point in time when I realized I have perfected the steps to recreate the same great taste, every single time. Everything becomes second nature and reflex action.

Hmm. What’s so difficult?

Investing has been feeling sort of like whipping up an awesome plate of aglio olio these days. Almost robotic in nature and I hardly gets excited about it these days.

Sure, the market goes up, and it goes down. What I’m trying to say is that I just wasn’t that affected emotionally or psychologically, I guess. Any of you feel the same way?

Bonus Recipe – Aglio Olio With Bacon (serves two)

After all the talk about aglio olio, it would be really mean to leave you all hanging out there with nothing to show for it. Here’s my good old recipe to share with you all.

Step One.
Cut two strips of streaky bacon into smaller pieces and toss them into a small frying pan. No oil needed. Cook the bacon on medium heat in its own fats until they are brown and slightly crisp (or choose your desired texture, because everyone has different taste). Once done, take out the bacon and set them aside on a couple of pieces of kitchen towel to absorb the excess oil.

Step Two.
Boil a pot of water and add tablespoon (or two) of salt. Tip – be generous. That’s where the saltiness comes from and it tastes better when it is infused into the spaghetti. Dump the desired amount of pasta into the boiling water and cook till desired doneness. That’s usually 10-13 minutes. I like it al dente. If you don’t know how much spaghetti to cook, you can pick up one of those pasta-measuring thing – I use this.


Step Three.
In a separate large pan (enough to contain two servings of spaghetti), heat up two tablespoon of olive oil and half a tablespoon of butter. Add in half a tablespoon of chopped garlic and one chopped chili padi. This will extract the fragrance of garlic and spiciness of chilli. Be careful not to burn the garlic or it will be bitter. Small heat is fine so you can slowly cook it but it should take no more than 3-minutes. The spaghetti takes 10-minutes to cook anyway.

Step Four.
Drain the spaghetti of water but you don’t need to squeeze every drop of water out of it. Immediately toss it into the large pan (on low heat) and mix the spaghetti evenly with the garlic/chilli oil. The residual water with salt will give it extra oomph as it slowly dries up. Just remember not to get too carried away because you aren’t making Chinese fried noodles!

Step Five.
Do a taste test. Sprinkle a dash of salt if needed. Drizzle with a little olive oil (not extra virgin) if it looks too dry for your liking. Yes, many tasty food in life are not healthy.

Step Six.
Serve on plates and sprinkle generously with chilli flakes and bacon pieces. Goes really well with a bottle of Hoegaarden or Erdinger.

Some Thoughts

When I tell you exactly what to do, it doesn’t seem too difficult right? Just imagine for a moment that you’re going to close this browser now. Like, now! Are you still confident of re-creating my aglio olio?

With the step-by-step guide in front of you, there is the relative safety of something to fall back on. However, the key to creating a great tasting dish depends a lot on experience. Experience is something that cannot be taught.

In life and work, there are many instances where people tend to guard their knowledge, refusing to share them with others. Perhaps they are afraid they when other people become more capable, they would pose a threat to their position in the workplace.

On the contrary, I tend to believe in the opposite. Teach and share everything. When we do so, we truly know whether we have understood what we thought we knew. In the process, we will even strengthen our understanding!

That’s right – teach and share something, today! Why wait!

Ingredients List – Aglio Olio With Bacon

You can easily buy the required ingredients from NTUC Fairprice or your favourite groceries store. The below list is the exact items I use.

FairPrice Streaky Bacon | $3.99 (Fairprice)
No need to go for gourmet brands or anything like that. Fairprice brand works just as well and you can separate the remaining unused pieces before putting them into the freezer for future use. Salt and cold guarantees you can almost keep them forever.

San Remo Spaghetti No. 5 | $1.90 (RedMart)
Plain old spaghetti I’ve been using for years.

Lurpak Spreadable Butter Salted | $7.95 (RedMart)
Salted butter works better and it gives better taste in addition to the fragrance of butter.

Defu Chop Garlic | $3.00 (Fairprice)
A life-saver. No need for fresh garlic, ever.

Pasar Red Chilli Padi | $0.80 (Fairprice)
Likewise, I keep the unused chilli in the freezer section. When required, take out desired quantity and soak them in water to “revive” them.

Borges Olive Oil 2-Litre | $27.90 (RedMart)
Personal preference.

McCormick Crushed Red Pepper | $6.00 (RedMart)
Aglio olio would never be the same without this. A must-have.

That’s it! No idea what to cook for your meals today? Why not aglio olio?