How to make the best ‘Fideua’

How to make the best ‘Fideua’

Anyone who knows me will tell you what a food lover I am. I love to discover local, traditional food. Today, I had the opportunity to learn how to make a ‘Fideua’, a seafood dish which originated from the coast of Valencia. Similar in style to the paella but made with small spaghetti noodles called ‘fideos’.

My guest host Oriol explains a little bit about Catalans traditional cooking history before we jump into making the Fideua.

After coming back from work many of us are usually tired to cook but for Oriol cooking is a pleasure and a way of relaxation. I am keen to know a bit more about how this love of cooking came about and Oriol explains to me the heritage of his grandmother and mother who would spend a long time in the kitchen cooking traditional dishes together.

We have lost a little of this tradition in our society where food has become more of a necessity rather than a social activity of the day. He also explains to me about the ‘Sofregit’; the base of Catalan cooking using tomatoes, onions, garlic and peppers. This base is then used for many Catalan dishes including paella, meat, fish and vegetables. We also talk about his favourite dish; ‘arròs de conill amb bolets’, (Rice with rabbit and wild mushrooms) a dish which signifies Catalan for him.

The Preparation

Oriol can see all this food talk is making my eyes sparkle and (mouth salivate!!) so we begin the preparation of the ‘Fideua’. We are going to prepare the Fideua for a big party of friends (the Catalan way) 12 people. Oriol starts by preparing the fish stock. He cleans the rock fish and places this with water and a little salt and lets this boil for 30-40 minutes.

Whilst the fish stock is getting ready he prepares the other ingredients; the prawns, langoustines, garlic and onion. He then shows me how to prepare the cuttlefish, (with quite some ease and I am already mind boggled). I suppose the fish monger could clean the cuttlefish for you but Oriol prefers to do it himself because he also uses the flesh of the wings which is quite tricky to separate but assures me that it gives a great flavour to the dish (see youtube video here as an example).

Oriol says the ‘true’ way to experience the fideua or paella is outdoors using an open fire or on gas by the use of a ring burner; which Oriol opts for. The atmosphere is also what makes the food so enjoyable to share and eat.

We set up all the prepared ingredients and start with mixing the langoustines for 5-10 minutes. What I learn is that the order of cooking the ingredients is important as it contributes to the flavour and also separating the ingredients after they are cooked so that each ingredient brings its own flavour to the dish.

When the langoustines are slightly cooked we take them out and put the prawns in the pan with a pinch of salt. Again sautee these for a few minutes and take them out and then put the cuttlefish in the pan. I ask Oriol how we know when the cuttlefish is cooked. He explains that you will see the cuttlefish literally ‘jumping’ (which we do !!)

Once the cuttlefish is ready we take it out and cook the onions and garlic and a bit of paprika on top. We add one spoon of broth and then mix together with some tomato sauce. After this the dish will take 10 minutes to be ready so you can time this according to your guests.

Make sure your broth is boiling, put the noodles fideos in the dish (we used 1.5 kilo of fideos) and cover with the broth, after about 7-8 minutes, a little tip Oriol told me was to cover the dish with a towel to create steam. Add in the cuttlefish, prawns and langoustines. Once you see all the water has absorbed your dish is ready.

Happy faces always a good sign……
 Simply delicious

Bonne Digustation! The Fideua is a fantastic dish to prepare when you have a large party of family and friends. It is a great summer dish for the outdoors and whilst the guests enjoy an appertivo, you can join them as you are not stuck in the kitchen on your own.

Kids are happily playing whilst the dish is getting ready
Taking a bit of sun whilst the Fideua is getting prepared

Ingredients

  • Fresh Fish stock
  • Cuttlefish
  • Onions
  • Langoustines
  • King Prawns
  • Fideos spaghetti noodles
  • Organic Tomato Sauce
  • Olive Oil
  • Paprika powder
  • Salt

A few links

Video on how to extract the ink of the cuttlefish and prepare it
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gsC8aN3yeSc

Fideua origin explained on wikipedia

If you would like to talk about your favourite dish and share your recipe drop me a comment or a message. Happy cooking 😋

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