#MalaysianRecipes: Spicy Marinara by Nik Michael Imran

#MalaysianRecipes: Spicy Marinara by Nik Michael Imran

An extra oomph in your pasta

Text: Rachel Au

As Malaysians, we could sometimes get attached to a tinge of spiciness in our meals. Chef Nik Michael Imran has the perfect pasta recipe for that

Over the past few weeks, we've seen some tantalising recipes for Malaysian-inspired dishes by local chefs and owners of popular eateries. Ranging from Delectable by Su's kaya toast and crème brûlée to Ili Sulaiman of Dish by Ili's Roasted Spicy Ayam Masak Kicap to Shareen Ramli, the co-owner of Kita Kita’s Siti Li Food Studio's Asam Pedas Cik Salma. This week, we have a delicious fusion of Malaysian meets Italian thanks to celebrity chef Nik Michael Imran


A chef in his own right, the name Nik Michael and his talents were put in the spotlight after being one of the 24 finalists picked from 500 contestants in the first season of MasterChef Malaysia. But his passion for the art of culinary stemmed from his father Datuk Nik Ezar, who used to own an Italian restaurant in Brisbane, Australia. The father and son combo even opened a comfort food restaurant in Publika called PickNik, although they have recently suspended operations to focus on a catering business and have plans to market their pasta sauce. On the side, Nik Michael has also hosted several food shows on television, which includes the Asian Food Channel.


Here's Nik Michael Imran's recipe for a plate of tasty Spicy Marinara with an oomph. 



1 head of garlic (roughly minced)

3-4 red chilli padi, bashed in a mortar & pestle with some olive oil.

4 onions (sliced)

4 celery stalks (roughly chopped)

4½ tablespoons dried oregano

2 tablespoons dried basil

2 tablespoons dried rosemary

5 dried bay leaves

¼ can tomato paste

4 cans of whole peeled tomatoes (San Marzano-brand preferably)

2 cans of water (re-use tomato cans)

3 teaspoons salt

3 teaspoons pepper

1 teaspoon sugar

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 prawns (deshelled and deveined, tail left on)

3 mussels (on half shell)

6 calamari rings 50 grams cod fish (cut into thick squares)

2 teaspoons garlic (minced)

200 grams cooked spaghetti

3 tablespoons heavy cream

2 sprigs fresh basil leaves

2 lemon wedges



1. In a tall pot, add garlic, onion, celery, 4 tablespoons of oregano, basil, rosemary, and bay leaves. Put the pot on medium heat and sweat the vegetables. Make sure they don't scorch.

2. Add tomato paste to the pot, then stir and cook for 1 to 2 minutes.

3. Mash canned tomatoes to half-inch chunks, and add them to the pot.

4. Add the water to the pot. Bring to a boil then immediately to a simmer. Leave to simmer for 30 minutes. 

5. Season with salt, pepper, and sugar. Set aside.

6. In a pan, add some olive oil and put on medium heat until oil is shimmering.


7. Add prawns, mussels, calamari rings, and fish to the pan. Saute until outsides are cooked. Season with salt and pepper.

8. Add minced garlic, 1tsp chilli padi and 1 teaspoon of dried oregano to the pan. Saute until garlic is translucent.

9. Add marinara sauce to the pan, and turn heat down to low. Cook until seafood is cooked through.

10. Add cream until sauce turns pink. 

11. Add cooked pasta and toss well.

12. Serve with seafood on top. Garnish with a whole basil leaf and lemon wedge lightly dipped in minced parsley.


Connect with Nik Michael Imran on Facebook or Instagram where he shares recipe videos, his recent food haunts, latest projects and more.

Related stories:

#MalaysianRecipes: Kaya Toast Crème Brûlée by Delectable By Su

#MalaysianRecipes: Roasted Spicy Ayam Masak Kicap by Ili Sulaiman

#MalaysianRecipes: Asam Pedas Cik Salma by Siti Li Food Studio