Fideua is a pasta lover’s answer to Paella (or Arroz a Banda). It is a Spanish recipe, originating from the Catalonia/Valencia regions, often using a favorite ingredient of the area – a healthy pinch of prized saffron threads. Just like its rice based cousin, Paella.
Fideua recipes have many variations. Common ones include smoked chorizo sausage and chicken, black Fideuà colored with squid or cuttlefish ink, and vegetarian mushroom versions. But the favorite recipe involves local fresh seafood.
The main important components to making a good Fideua or Paella for that matter, is in the pan. It is important for the pan to be large and shallow and to be cooked over a heating element that covers most of the bottom of the pan as evenly as possible. This allows for the creation of a thick broth to be created at the bottom of the pan.
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The pasta will soak up the broth seasoned with all of the juices in the pan. The pasta really is the star of the dish. When making your version, make sure not to overcrowd the pan with ingredients.
The second important factor is the stock. Using a high quality, lower sodium stock will make all of the difference. It’s easy to add salt, not so easy to take it away. If you have your own homemade seafood stock, all the better. Homemade stock is easy to make by boiling shrimp shells with some aromatic vegetables and straining the liquid.
Easier still, you can put the shells and vegetables in a crock pot for several hours over low heat with the same results. It can be frozen in small bags or in ice cube trays to be used when needed. If you don’t have your own stock, it can also be made using high quality bouillon cubes or the premade gel stocks that are now available.
Lastly, you can substitute the stock with clam juice, vegetable stock or chicken broth in a pinch. Anything but plain water, which doesn’t have any flavor!
The best thing about this dish is that it comes together pretty quickly, but look pretty impressive on the plate and tastes like you have been in the kitchen all day. The pasta is also a little more forgiving than rice, and is less likely to come out sticky or underdone. So if you have ever thought of making Paella but are a little intimidated, try making Fideuà first.
Unlike Paella, Fideua is traditionally served with a dollop of garlic aioli. I often omit it, but provided a quick aioli recipe so that you can decide for yourself.
Here are some additional Spanish recipes you might enjoy:
- 8 Oz (100 g) 1 mm Fideua Noodles (or Vermicelli cut into 1 - 2" pieces)
- 1/2 Medium Red Bell Pepper, seeded and cut into strips
- 3 Cloves Garlic, Minced
- 1 Small Onion, Diced
- 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 1/2 Lb (450 g) Clams or Mussels
- 1/2 Lb (450 g) Medium Shrimp
- 1/2 Lb (450 g) Fresh or Thawed Seafood Chunks (Fish, Scallops, Squid)
- 4 Oz (100 g) Crushed Tomatoes
- 4 Cups (950 ml) Seafood Stock
- 1 Teaspoon Sweet Paprika
- 1 Pinch Saffron
- 1/2 (118 ml( Cup Dry White Wine
- 2 Tablespoons Butter
- Lemon Wedges, Chopped Parsley or Cilantro, As a garnish
Aioli Sauce Ingredients
- 1/2 Cup (58 g) Mayonnaise (low sugar)
- 2 Cloves Garlic - Crusted
- 1 Tablespoon Fresh Lemon Juice
- Salt and Pepper to Taste
- 1 Pinch Saffron, Optional
- Scrub clams and clean and debeard mussels. The shrimp can be cooked with shells or not per your preference. Place clams and mussels in the refrigerator in an uncovered bowl.
- Heat the seafood stock to a soft boil in a small sauce pan. Add the saffron and return the pan to low heat. Cover and set aside.
- Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a pan over medium heat. The pan should be shallow and about 12" wide. Add the noodles and saute until they are golden brown (about 5 minutes). Remove and set aside. Wipe saute pan clean.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the pan over medium heat. Add the Shrimp to the pan and cook for about 2 minutes on each side. Set aside. Then add additional seafood chunks and cook for an additional 3 minutes. Set aside.
- Add 2 Tablespoons of butter to the pan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook for about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and red bell peppers. Saute until the peppers begin to soften and the onions are translucent.
- Add the paprika to pan and cook for about 2 minutes. Then add the tomatoes and wine and saute until the mixture starts to bubble.
- Add the pasta, shrimps and seafood chunks to the pan. Add 1 1/2 cups of the stock and stir. Place the clams and or mussels evenly in the pan. Add enough of the stock to just cover the pasta.
- Cover with a lid and allow the mixture to simmer for 5 minutes. Continue cooking until the pasta is al dente and the clams or mussels have opened.
- Remove from heat and allow to sit for 5 minutes. Discard any clams or mussels that have not opened.
- Garnish with lemon wedges, chopped parsley and or cilantro. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with aioli sauce on the side.
Method for Aioli Sauce
- Combine all ingredients together and refrigerate for 1 hour before use. Can be made a day in advance.