Joel Binamira's version of the Feta Cheese Pasta. Photo from @therealmarketman on Instagram
Food & Drink

How Zubuchon owner slayed viral feta cheese pasta challenge—without an oven, in less time

A more flavorful, quicker version of that Tiktok pasta dish, which turns out to have Greek origins 
ANCX Staff | Mar 01 2021

We’re probably already late for the party, but we’re crashing it anyway. 

One of the latest cooking challenges that went viral on TikTok is the feta cheese pasta challenge, which so far has already clocked in over 653 million views. The procedure is pretty easy. It involves putting cherry tomatoes in a baking dish, adding some peeled garlic, and putting a block of feta cheese in the middle. 

Then everything is drizzled with a generous amount of olive oil, sprinkled with herbs and seasoning (salt, pepper, oregano, crushed pepper flakes, basil), then baked in the oven at 350 degrees F for about 35 to 40 minutes. Once done with baking, all the ingredients are mashed up together before adding the cooked pasta into the mixture. Voila! Challenge conquered.

If this sounds Greek to you, well, it is. It’s  actually a rip-off of a Greek dish called Garides Saganaki, which is basically “fried cheese or fried cheese with mussels,” says epicure, Zubuchon owner, and @therealmarketman on Instagram, Joel Binamira. Joel recently posted a no-bake version of the dish on his IGTV. 

The classic Greek version of the dish has shrimps, which makes it even more tasty and satisfying. It is normally served with some crusty bread to soak up all that sauce, says known food connoisseur Andrew Zimmern of What’s Eating America, who has a recipe on his website. 

Following the TikTok trend, the Marketman cooked his version of the Garides Saganaki (or the feta cheese pasta with shrimps), but instead of baking the tomatoes and cheese, which involves longer prep time, he cooked everything on a stove—in 15 to 20 minutes.

What he did first was to simmer some canned tomatoes (get the tomatoes out of the can, of course!), whole cloves of garlic, olive oil, onions, sliced Italian plump tomatoes, and some fresh basil. Then he pan-fried the feta cheese in a hot pan with olive oil, allowing it to melt and brown a little. Then he added the peeled shrimps (you can also add them later so it won’t overcook), ladlesful of the simmering tomato sauce, and some seasoning (salt, pepper, Italian parsley, oregano, and basil. Put some red pepper flakes, if you want more spice). 

Then he put the pasta (make sure it’s a minute or two shy to being al dente) straight into the sauce. Pan-frying and using canned tomatoes shortened the cooking process. By the way, he prefers whole canned tomatoes than the crushed or sauce type, in case you want to know.

If you’re having difficulty looking for feta cheese, you may opt for Buffalo mozzarella, but be sure to remove from the pan immediately, and enjoy it while the mozzarella is meltingly tender. We also tried it using kesong puti and bottled pasta sauce using Joel’s kawali way and the result was very satisfying indeed.