My initial intention was to make a traditional paella eaten during lent but when I was about to add the rice to the paella pan, I realised I didn’t have any. I did, however have some fideua pasta so I improvised and made this traditional paella into a fideua instead.
I can imagine Valencian purists having a field day with me and trying to tell me how I have messed up their precious cuisine but frankly I really don’t care. I think it is important to experiment with food especially if the end result is finger licking good.
I’d say that Fideua is the pasta version of paella and outside of the Valencian Community it is not as well known. It was first created in Gandia, a coastal town in Valencia.
It pairs perfectly with ajoaceite
5 pieces of salt cod, desalted*
2 bay leaves
1 onion, half moon slices
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1 large ripe tomato, grated
1 tsp. sweet pimenton (or paprika)
Few strands of saffron**
1 Make a stock with the salt cod, bay leaves and garlic. When it comes to a boil, skim off the impurities and simmer on low for 10 minutes. When time is up, strain the stock and remove the cod. Flake the cod and reserve.
2 In a paella pan fry the onion until translucent. Make a well in the centre and fry the pimenton for a few seconds before quickly adding the tomato to prevent the pimenton from burning. Fry for 1 – 2 minutes.
3 Add the fish stock and saffron to the paella pan along with the flaked fish. Add the stock and extra water if needed just above the two nails on either side of the paella dish.
4 When the stock has reduced to just below the nails add the fideua pasta. To add the pasta, it is best to sprinkle it in a line spanning the width of the pan and then distributing it with a spatula. Simmer on low for 8 minutes or until the pasta has soaked up most of the water and the pasta is al dente.
4 Take the pan off the flame, cover with a kitchen towel and let it rest for 5 minutes before serving.
Suggestion: If you can get your hands on paella rice, you can make the intended paella instead. Instead of adding pasta, add the rice and cook for 20 minutes.
* You need to desalt the cod well in advance, at least 48 – 72 hours depending on the thickness. First you need to wash the fillets under running water to remove the visible salt and then soak them in water for the required time. Remember to change the water every 12 hours.
** To prepare the saffron: dry roast the strands in a frying pan for a few seconds, crush with a pestle and mortar and then dilute in warm stock.
*** Fideua pasta comes in varying thicknesses. If you can’t find fideua pasta in your country of residence you could substitute for vermicelli noodles.