I hope you are just ready to enjoy Easter. Luckily, I am off work for a couple of days so I will be able to focus on the blog even more. By the way: thank you very much to those who voted on the Instagram poll I set up to decide today’s recipe. The result was overwhelmingly favorable to Fideua… And I am not surprised at all. I must confess my vote went to the Asparagus soup, but don’t worry my vegetarian readers: its day will come soon.
At this stage you might be asking to yourselves: what is exactly Fideua? Foodie instagramer @munchingwithmolly_x described it as “like a Paella, but with pasta instead of rice”. And she is quite right because this recipe would have never existed if it had not been because of a mistake. One day, a fishermen crew from Gandía (near Valencia) named Santa Isabel wanted to cook a Paella for lunch. With everybody hungry after a hard-worked shift they realized that had forgotten the rice at the harbour. So what they added instead? Vermicelli pasta, an ingredient that Spaniards often use for soups and broths. The eventual result was so successful that today it divides people between Paella and Fideua eaters on Sunday.
The cooking process it not too different from a Paella although there are minimal alterations. The original recipe includes monkfish and langoustine and a sofrito (vegetable base) made out of only onion and tomato. But I like my Fideua fully loaded and this one particularly includes some delicatessen from my local fish market. The pasta is stocked for sale at some British ethnic stores or ethnic sections within the big groceries chains. It is hard to find, but not impossible (despite it took me three years living in Oxford to do so).
One final note: unlike with Paella, I ground the sofrito because I wanted to make a smoother dish. You can choose not to do it if you want to find all the veg bits in, but I recommend you to do it when cooking this recipe because it makes a massive difference.
Add a dash of olive oil in your paella pan and toast the pasta at low heat. This should take you up to five minutes. Once done, remove and set aside.
2. Add some more oil to the pan and increase the heat to high. Sear the prawns for two minutes each side, transfer to a bowl (they are releasing juice at this moment) and reserve for later. Do the same with the squid for about five minutes.
3. In the same oil, simmer all the vegetables already well chopped to make the sofrito. Add more oil (if you need) and a pinch of salt. When tender, add the tablespoons of tomato and keep simmering until all the water evaporates. Finally, sprinkle the sweet paprika and cook for 30 seconds.
4. Using a hand blender, grind the sofrito until you get a uniform, orangey and semi thick texture. Reserve for later.
5. Dice the monkfish and sear it in the pan at medium heat for shortly. After that, return the squid and drop all the sofrito. Cook all together for a couple of minutes and then add the pasta. Cook for five minutes so all flavours merge into each other.
6. Spread everything evenly across the pan and drop the fishstock. Sink the prawns and the mussels under the water line. Boil your fideua 10 minutes at high heat and 8 minutes at medium.
7. If your pan is ovenproof, put it in for seven minutes at 180 celsius to evaporate the stock completely. However, if is not the case, remove from the fire and cover with a clean kitchen cloth for about 10 minutes. Serve in a flat plate and enjoy your meal!