Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Have You Ever Heard of Fideua?

Fideuá is somehow one of the more overlooked dishes hailing from that tasty country of Spain, especially considering the flavor profile is one that appeals to almost the whole world.  At the risk of oversimplifying it, Fideuá (AKA Fideuada) is essentially paella made with noodles instead of rice. 
As with many outstanding dishes from around the world, it originates with poor people, fisherman in this case, making due with what they have.  With time and economy, the dish has changed from its modest origins, but the heart of the dish remains the same - a simple way to enjoy great seafood.

This doesn't fall under the category of "easy recipes" but if you make the effort you will be rewarded well. 

You'll notice that there is a long list of seafood, this is only a suggestion. I used everything here and it was almost too much to fit in the pan.  Feel free to use what you have access to and/or like.  And, as with any recipe, the freshest seafood is key. 
Traditionally this dish is made with "fideos" - an thin spanish noodle that are toasted in the pan before the recipe starts.  Angel hair pasta is the usual substitution, but I prefer the texture of a thicker noodle.  You could use fideos or angel hair, but know that the cooking times would be reduced greatly once the noodles are added. 

1 link of dried chorizo (approx. 8 oz.), cut on a long bias
8 sea scallops
8 jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
12 mussels, rinsed well and beards removed
6-10 clams, rinsed well
1/2 lb. calamari, bodies cut into 1/2" rings
1/2 lb. sturdy fish such as monk, sword, mackerel or hallibut, cut into 1/2" cubes

1 lb. Spaghetti noodles, broken into 3"-4" segments
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, sliced
2 tbsps, aji amarillo or piquillo puree, finely chopped roasted peppers would also work 
2 tbsps, tomato paste
1 tsp of sweet paprika
a pinch of Saffron (15-20 threads)

6 cups shrimp stock (Fish stock is the best plan B, otherwise chicken or veggie stock will do)

1. Spread the broken noodles out on a sheet pan and toast them in a 350˚ F oven until they're slightly toasted.  Around 8-10 minutes
2. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat.  (14" or bigger, traditionally a paella pan would be used for this, so if you have one, now is the time to get it out.)
3.  Add enough oil to coat the bottom of the whole skillet, let it heat to just about smoking.  Drop in the chorizo and cook, stirring occasionally,  until lightly browned on all sides.  Remove the chorizo and set it on paper towels to drain. 
4.  Salt and pepper all of the seafood and fish.  Working in small batches, brown the scallops, shrimp, and calamari in the same oil.  Once browned well, set them aside. - The idea here is to simply brown the seafood and start the cooking process, NOT to cook the seafood through - that happens later in the process. ----> I only brown the scallops on one side to prevent over cooking
5.  Add the onion to the same oil (add a little more oil if there's not still enough to coat the bottom of the pan ) Add a pinch of salt and cook until slightly translucent then add the sliced garlic and stir to combine.
6.  Add the aji amarillo, paprika, tomato paste, saffron and noodles.  Put enough of the shrimp stock to cover the noodles.
7.  Simmer the noodles, stirring often at the beginning to prevent clumps. 

8. Once the noodles have absorbed most of the liquid (8-10 min.), add a splash more of the stock.  Insert the clams and mussels, hinge side down.  Cover the pan and reduce the heat to low.  (If you don't have a lid, use tin foil.)

9. Cook on low until the clams and mussels have just begun to open.  Disperse the remaining seafood over the top of the fideuå.  Replace the cover and continue to cook on low for another 5-7 minutes.   ** At this point the mussels should have opened, discard the ones that haven't**
10. Turn off the heat, poke the slivers of chorizo in and allow this whole dish to rest covered for 5-10 minutes.  Finish it with a dusting of chopped parsley, a healthy squeeze of lemon and a drizzle of good olive oil.  Enjoy!

Fideuá is often served next to a bowl of freshly made aioli. 

**Special thanks to Shawn Sowers for help with the photography on this entry.
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