A really awsome fideuá

I´ve always wanted to learn how to do a proper paella. But it seems to be a pretty huge undertaking. So many factors to take into account, so much fiddling around, so many arguments as to what constitutes a "true" paella...And there´s always the tricky question of the "punto del arroz", that exact nirvana of the rice grain, achieved only with extreme precision and an almost otherwordly flair. Or so they say.

All these tiresome rice pundits do agree on one thing, though ; fideuá is a sort of paella for dummies. The preparation is similar, but there´s none of that stress about perfection. It can be dry, or soupy, and pasta is pretty foolproof to cook. It doesn´t even have to be al dente, so you have a few minutes grace.

One day I´ll try my hand at rice, but yesterday I took my first steps, and produced fideuá. And, I am happy to say, it was excellent. It was delicious. It took less than half an hour to cook, and was bursting with flavour from all the things that were inside.

I´ll give you the recipe, and hope I´m not being irritating with the imprecision, but that´s the beauty of it. You can be pretty slapdash and it will still be good. This is how it goes.

I had some good fish stock in the freezer, about 1 1/2 cups, and the especial fideuá noodles in the cupboard. They´re small, curved and hollow in the middle, but you can do it with normal thickish noodles. Onions, garlic, saffon, pimentón and tomatoes I had. I then bought a courgette, one small squid, and a handful of mussels.
It can be done with any other vegetables, shellfish, or even chicken. Your call. The quantities here are for two.

You start the sofrito with onion and garlic in a frying pan, or similar wide low pan.
While they soften, you grate the tomatoes. Dice the courgette pretty small. By this time the onions will be pretty floppy. Add a pinch of saffron strands and a third of a teaspoon of pimentón. Mix it for no more than thirty seconds, and add the tomato. It´s important that you do this, otherwise the pimentón will burn and taste really horrible.

Let that reduce. It will take around ten minutes. Cut up the squid into small chunks. Open the mussels. I do this in the microwave, but use your preferred method. Add the liquid to the fish stock, and reserve the mussels.

When the sofrito is done ,add the squid and the noodles. I used two good handfuls, about 150 gr. Move them around the pan for a minute, and then add the stock. It has to cover the noodles by about a finger.

Let it boil away for 12 minutes or so. You can spend the time doodling the bowl of mussels, or clearing up the kitchen a little, or making a salad.
Check after 10 minutes. By that time, the pasta will have absorbed most of the liquid, and the starch from the noodles will have made the stock all silky and risotto-ish. When you think the noodles are done, turn the fire off, scoop into bowls, and add the mussels.

Mine out came more soupy than not, but when we came back for seconds the pasta had soaked up everything, and it was quite dry. I think trial and error is in order if I ever want a crusty socarrat bottom, but for now, I´m very happy with this.

7 comentarios:

Raquel dijo...

Mmmmmm! the magic word: Socarrat!!! and my mouth is watering ...

Jen dijo...

I too have been quite daunted in making a paella, although the look of it is very tempting. But this recipe definitely sounds more doable.

Anónimo dijo...

I tried to make paella once and it would have been successful except for the darned rice.

This sounds delicious and (to me) more unusual than paella. I particularly like the idea of the eggplant with the mussels.

Anónimo dijo...

I wish I could dip my fork into that dish right now! And I am eager for the day when you finally do try the paella!

lobstersquad dijo...

Guru: I know...will try next time
Jenjen: good starting point
Julie: it´s a good ´un, I definitely recommend it
Ivonne: some day I´ll brave it, and will let you know, of course!

Anónimo dijo...

Well, I am Javier, I am spanish and I used to be a professional cooker when I was younger.

I worked for two years in a restaurant in Azahar Coast in Peñíscola.

We said our speciality was our fish paella. And everybody agreed.

So, I am explaining you some tips about paella. No secrets, please feel free to ask anything you want. If my English level allows, I will answer.

First of all, you need a special kind of rice. You cannot make a paella with Basmati,long grain nor parboiled rice. Just utilise round grain. This is very important.

The second important thing is about the water quality. You need low Calcium water. If tab water is too rich, you MUST put mineral water for makig fish fumet.

How to make the fumet for paella? You need fish bones and heads, shrimps heads and you MUST put 2 or 3 sardines or anchovies in order to obtain a bit of fish oil in your fumet. Scratch them against the pan vigorously whe boiled.

Let the water boling with the content for 15 minutes. After that, carry the fish out, put a cup of white wine and salt and let the fumet reduce for 20 minutes. Now you have a correct fumet.

Make the sofrito as you know, it is correct. Put the rice and stir slowly for 5 minutes in the sofrito. Add the safran. Stir well.

After that, put the fumet. 2 cups of fumet for every cup of rice.

Put fire at maximum for 10 minutes. Do not remove with spoon, just move the pan.

After that, fire at minimum for 8-10 minutes.

Turn the fire off. Cover the paella with a clean newspaper. (No, I am not joking, with a clean newspaper). Let the paella sleep for 5 minutes.

Now you have a good paella.

Estelwen Ancálimë dijo...


I'm from Valencia (Spain), and (I don't know if you know it) the paella is original from Valencia. The true and authentic valencian paella has nothing to do with de strange "rices-with-things" that many restaurants serve to the tourist.

First, the authentic paella can only be found in Valencia. The reason is that some ingredients (the vegetables) are very local and can't be found in other cities of Spain.

The real paella is not with prawns, squid, chorizo, pepper, green peas... or other usual ingredients of the "touristic menus". The real paella has only chicken, rabbit, rice, tomato, and two special vegetables: bachoqueta (a variety of green large bean) and garrofón (some kind of a crushed white bean). Adding snails is optional.

If someone understands the spanish language, and is interested in learning how to cook a true paella, can read the recipe in my blog: