Catalunyan fideuà, named the daughter of the sea

In Catalunya, the north eastern part of Spain, there is a traditional dish called fideuà, made with short lengths of dry thin pasta called fideus. Instead of boiling the noodles, the noodles are first browned in olive oil, then simmered in a rich fish and vegetable stock. The Catalan way is to cook them with only a small amount of liquid in a wide cazuela or paella pan.

It is believed this delicious dish, a close relative of paella, made its way to Catalunya from Gandia, a small sea side town south of Valencia. The story goes that in Gandia fideuà was created by a fisherman called  Joan Batiste Pascual or better known as Zabala. In Gandia though they don’t brown the noodles first, but instead just simmer them in the rich broth.

Zabala called his creation la hija del mar (the daughter of the sea) as the dish was born aboard a fishing boat due to one greedy skipper. Zabala was the cook aboard this fishing boat and regularly served paella to the crew, the skipper of the boat however, loved the paella so much that he would often eat more than his fair share. In an attempt to stop the skipper being so greedy, Zabala changed the rice to pasta and thus the glorious fideuá was born.

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browning the fideus in olive oil


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fideus are left on kitchen paper to drain the oil

 
 
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when your fideus begin to point upwards, they are ready!

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Recipe (for four)

  • 350g thin pasta, number 1 or 2
  • 1 L fish stock, you can use my fish stock recipe for paella for this recipe: https://freddyoblog.wordpress.com/2016/01/27/a-good-paella-is-all-about-the-stock/
  • 1 red capsicum diced into little cubes
  • 1/2 onion diced into little cubes
  • 200ml canned tomatoes, cooked
  • 4 chopped garlic cloves
  • 3 small fresh squids, cut into 1 cm pieces
  • 450g pipis or  small vongole
  • 2 small snapper fillets, cut into bite sizes
  • 10 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp sweet smoked paprika
  • salt

Preparation

  1. Add 6 tablespoons of olive oil to a frying pan, turn on heat then drop your noodles. At a gentle heat slowly turn the noodles and allow them to brown. Remove them and set aside on kitchen paper.
  2. Add the remaining oil to a paella pan, drop your onions and capsicum, sauté them for around 10 minutes, then add your garlic, constantly stir the ingredients for around 2 minutes, make sure not to burn the garlic.
  3. Add the paprika, quickly stir the ingredients for about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, and stir the ingredients well. Allow all the liquid from the tomatoes to evaporate. This normally takes around 8-10 minutes.
  4. Drop the squid into the pan, stir to ensure the squid is well coated with the ingredients. Reduce the heat and slowly sauté your ingredients until they become sticky and dry. Makes sure to scrape the pan as the sticky sauce will compound the flavours of your fideuà.
  5. Add the fideus, pour the stock over them, increase the heat until the stock begins to simmer and add salt. At this point make sure to taste the stock.
  6. Let the pan sit over medium heat for 10 minutes, at this stage don’t stir the ingredients in the pan. After five minutes add the pipis and fish. One way to tell it’s ready is by the shape of your fideus, they should be oddly pointing upwards.

This dish goes well with an Argentinian Torrontes from Salta or an Albarìño from Rias Baixas, Galicia.

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