Fideuà is a wonderful dish originating from Catalan Spain and is very similar to it’s better known cousin, paella. The main difference being that instead of rice, thin vermicelli noodles are used, and unlike Italian pasta dishes the noodles here are cooked in only a small amount of liquid just as the rice would be cooked in a traditional paella. And just like paella there are many different ingredients you can choose from to make fideuà. I chose chorizo, squid and prawns as the main components and made a fish stock using the prawn shells. Using a very flavourful broth can make the difference between a good fideuà and a great one. This is one of those moreish dishes where you think you’ve made far too much but it’s so good you can’t stop eating it. Fideuà would make a great meal for informal entertaining, where the dish it is cooked in can be bought straight to the table for everyone to dig in and help themselves. You don’t have to use a paella pan, any round shallow skillet or frypan that is oven safe will do, but something without long handles is best. I found fideuà easier to make than a traditional paella and I also found the noodles to be somewhat lighter than rice, making this a great dish to serve in warmer weather.
Ingredients – Serves 3-4
6-8 large uncooked prawns, heads and shells removed and reserved
200g squid, sliced
1 cup thinly sliced Spanish chorizo
1 onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup tomato passata
1 heaped teaspoon tomato paste
750ml best quality vegetable or chicken stock
Large pinch of saffron
Salt & pepper
250g angel hair pasta broken into 1 inch pieces
To make the stock, heat a about a tablespoon of olive oil in a medium size saucepan and when hot add the reserved prawn shells and heads. Cook stirring and pressing down hard on the shells and heads for a good few minutes. Add a pinch of salt, some freshly ground pepper and the saffron. Stir again then add the stock and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer covered for 30 minutes.
To make the fideuà, preheat the oven to 180C. Heat a large shallow skillet which is oven proof over medium heat and add a small splash of olive oil. When hot add the prawns and season with salt and pepper. Cook for a minute on each side, until just lightly seared. Remove and set aside. To the same pan add the squid and a little more oil if required, season and cook for a couple of minutes flipping them around to evenly colour them. Remove and set aside. Add the onions, along with a little more oil if the pan is dry, and cook until the onions are slightly soft. Add the chorizo and garlic to the onions and cook stirring until the chorizo start to release their oil and have browned a little.
Add the noodles, stir and cook for a few minutes until all the noodles are coated with the oil and slightly toasted. Return the squid to the pan along with the passata, tomato paste and some salt and pepper and stir well. Add enough stock to just cover the noodles. Bring to a simmer and cook over low heat, uncovered, until almost all the liquid is evaporated. At this point the noodles should be almost completely cooked. Place the prawns around the dish and place in the oven for 20-25 minutes by which time the noodles will be soft and the top will be slightly golden and crunchy. Serve straight away with a green salad.