“Fideuà” my way

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This is insane! I’ve wanted to make this dish since I first saw a picture of it on Facebook. A massive paella pan filled with seafood and thin pasta noodles (“fides” for Cypriots). It’s similar to paella, as it is cooked in a paella pan; only it contains pasta instead of rice. The ingredients are usually prawns or crayfish, mussels or clams and fish. I read online that in the Fideuà region of Spain, Gandia, cooks compete once a year as they try to make their best Fideuà.

To cook Fideuà at home, one would say you need a paella pan. I happen to have one, as I am a kitchen gadget freak. But I’m assuming there isn’t one in every household unless you live in Spain. You need to use your largest frying pan for this and no, a wok won’t do. You need the base to be flat otherwise your noodles will not cook evenly.

I cooked this dish with A LOT of seafood. Traditional Fideuà has a lot less fish for 350 grams of noodles. However, my dish came out really tasty, rich and delicious. I went ahead and used 500 grams of calamari but you can get away with half this quantity. Again, the ratio of seafood and noodles really depends on the size of your pan. In order to give you some indication, my paella pan is 34cm round, which means that if your pan is about 30cm (normal dimensions of a round pan) reduce the quantities by about 1/3. I used “MItsides” noodle nests and slightly crushed them by hand. You really want to retain some pasta length here, so don’t cut your noodles too short.

I urge you to try this dish. It took me about 20 minutes to prep and 20 minutes to cook it, so it doesn’t really take much time. Improvise with the quantities. Use more or less fish, add shells, mussels, whatever satisfies your craving. It’s a lovely, wonderful, aromatic dish and a fantastic way to eat seafood.

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Ingredients

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 Tbs unsalted butter
  • 20 king prawns (14 peeled and 6 left whole with head and tail)
  • 500 grams baby calamari, sliced in 2cm rounds
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 cup fresh tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 Tbs tomato paste
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • A pinch of saffron threads
  • ¼ cup chopped parsley
  • 1 X 350 grams pack “Mitsides” noodle nests
  • 3 cups fish stock (use vegetable stock if you don’t have fish stock. I made my stock using the heads and tails of the peeled prawns).
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

 

Method

Preheat oven to 200 C. Heat the oil and butter in a paella pan or a large frying pan, over high heat. As soon as butter melts, add the unpeeled prawns and fry for 2 minutes until their colour changes and they are cooked through (don’t overcook them otherwise they will harden). Take prawns out in a bowl.

Put the calamari in the pan and fry for 1 minute, stirring frequently until its pale in colour and cooked. Take calamari out of the pan in a bowl.

Reduce heat to medium-high and add the onion, garlic and red pepper. Cook stirring for about 2-3 minutes until onion and peppers are soft. Add chopped tomatoes and cook for about a minute, until tomatoes release their juices. Add tomato paste, wine, paprika, cayenne, saffron threads and parsley. Stir everything together and boil for half a minute.

Lower heat to medium-low and add the noodles all the way around the pan (put more on the outer rim of your pan and less in the centre, as they tend to cook quicker), crushing the nests as you go. Return the calamari in the centre of the pan and add the uncooked, peeled prawns. Pour over the broth and simmer uncovered for 3 minutes. Don’t stir the noodles; just use your cooking spatula to push them down into the broth.

Put the cooked, unpeeled prawns on top of your fideua. Transfer your pan in the oven (see note) and cook 6-7 minutes until the noodles absorb the juices, and start to become crisp in places. Take out of the oven and check your dish. The pasta noodles should be cooked but not mushy. If your dish seems too dry, add a little water.

Garnish with some chopped parsley and serve at once with lemon wedges.

 

Note: You can cook your Fideuà entirely on the stove. Simmer uncovered, about 7-8 minutes until your noodles are cooked and juices are absorbed.

 

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