Paella’s lesser-known cousin
Dreams of the holidays, airports, the never-ending family dinners — it’s all come to an end and the new year awaits. 2012 is here and it seems it is going to be anything but boring.
If you don’t believe it, listen to this: This year we will enjoy the Olympics in London; the 2012 World Expo will be held in Yeosu; in May there is going to be a total solar eclipse; and of course, the world will end. If it does, at least it won’t happen until December.
In anticipation of the apocalypse, I want to share with you a recipe for a powerful meal. Carbohydrates have always helped me in crisis times.
Without further ado I introduce “fideua,” the paella’s lesser-known cousin.
What makes fideua special? It uses noodles instead of rice and its colorful history.
True story: There was a fisherman who had to cook paella for everybody on his boat several days a week. Every time he cooked it, the captain had huge portions and nobody else got enough food. Fed up with the situation (pardon the pun), Mr. Fisherman decided to try swapping the rice for noodles to see if the captain’s appetite would be sated sooner, thus leaving more food for the rest of the crew. Unfortunately it didn’t work. But he did become famous for this dish and now there is not a restaurant by the Mediterranean that doesn’t offer it.
The fact that we know the name of the fisherman, Joan Batiste Pascual (born in 1915), makes fideua one of the few Spanish dishes with a traceable origin. How cool would it be to be remembered for a great dish at the end of the world?
Ingredients for 6 people
- A handful of shrimp
- 2 slices of monkfish
- 1/2 kg of noodles (my favorite for this dish is vermicelli, but it is up to you)
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 4 medium red tomatoes
- 1 green pepper
- 1 bit of saffron
- 1 cup of olive oil
- 1/2 l. fish stock
How to make it
1. Make the fish stock. I like to make it with the bones of the monkfish and some of the shrimp. Boil them in water for 20 minutes max, then set the shrimp aside.
2. In a big pan or pot (better if it’s made of terracotta), pour the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the rest of the shrimp, and the monkfish. When the shrimp get red and the monkfish starts to brown, set both aside.
3. Cut the tomato, green pepper, and garlic into small squares and fry them on low heat in the same pan that you have been using.
4. When they are caramelized, add the saffron and mix everything together for a couple of minutes.
5. Then add the noodles to the veggies, and fry them a little. You want them to be a little crispy after this step, so don’t cook them too much.
6. Add the fish stock, and on high heat let it cook for 15 minutes. Add the monkfish and shrimp you had set aside for the last three minutes.
8. When it’s finished the last trick is to put the pan in the oven for 5 minutes to help the stock evaporate and to make the noodles crispier and browner.
Note 1: this dish is eaten with a bit of allioli (garlic mayonnaise). Warming: don’t kiss anybody after eating it.
Note 2: use the recipe as a guide; you can change the fish for whatever you have in the fridge.