A seafood paella without rice is possible. It’s called seafood fideuà and it uses short dry vermicelli-like noodles instead of rice. It’s so delicious that you might have a new Spanish addition to your list of all-time favourite foods.
Once a year, my mother-in-law gathers us all around the family table to celebrate her birthday and enjoy a seafood fideuà. Over the years, this recipe has become a classic within our family and a special lunch to look forward to every summer.
What can I say about it… this is a wonderful, wonderful dish that we all feel very passionate about. Just looking at how much pride she takes when cooking it for us – always with great results – makes me love it more and more.
The seafood fideuà is a traditional Valencian recipe which is cooked all along the Mediterranean coast of Spain. Although very similar to a seafood paella, it uses ‘fideus’ – a type of short Spanish vermicelli-like dry noodles – instead of rice. As you do with the rice, the noodles are fried in the paella pan before adding the liquid stock, although some people also brown them in the oven. In both cases, the fideus are then cooked in a fish broth that will give them that very characteristic flavour of a good seafood fideuà.
The recipe that follows is heavily influenced by my mother-in-law’s one, although I must admit I’ve dared to go off-track and add my own bits in an attempt to create an even most perfect fideuà if that’s at all possible. As always, I hope you find the time and the strength to give it a go and let me know your feedback!
Can’t find ñora peppers? Buy them here.
- For the sofrito:
- 1 Red Pepper – finely chopped
- 1 Green pepper – finely chopped
- 1 White Onion – finely chopped
- 6 cloves Garlic
- 2 Tomatoes – grated
- 2 Ñora pepper
- 100 ml Extra virgin olive oil
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tbsp Sweet pimenton – alternatively any smoked paprika
- For the fideuà
- 1 litre Rock fish stock
- 200 g Shellfish – such as squilla mantis, shrimps, small crabs or crayfish
- 8 Langoustines
- 16 Mussels – with the shell
- 100 g Squid – cleaned and prepared, cut into large dice
- 400 g Fideo noodles – short and thin vermicelli-like noodles
- 0.5 tsp Saffron threads – toasted and pounded
- 150 ml Extra virgin olive oil
- 1 Lime
- Put the dried ñora pepper into a small bowl with hot water and hydrate for at least 1 hour. Once hydrated, remove the stalk and coarsely crumble.
- Heat some olive oil in a frying pan and add the finely chopped peppers, onion and garlic. Cook over a low heat for 15 minutes or until very soft.
- Stir in the pimenton and the ñora pepper and cook for one more minute.
- Add the grated tomato and cook for an extra 5 minutes.
- Season to taste.
- Take the langoustine heads off and reserve aside, together with the shellfish.
- Heat the olive oil in a 60 cm paella pan. Stir in the squid, the langoustine heads and the shellfish. Cook for 2-3 minutes over a medium-high heat, turning the pieces around so that they cook in both sides. Once browned, remove the langoustine heads and the shellfish from the pan. The idea here is to infuse the oil with the shellfish flavour and aroma.
- Turn the heat to medium and add the whole garlic cloves to the pan. Cook until browned and then remove them.
- Add the fideus pasta and pan-fry it gently, stirring at all times so it doesn’t burn. The pasta should cook until it becomes lightly browned.
- Stir in the sofrito and mix it with the fideus thoroughly. Pour in the fish stock and keep stirring for around a minute, making sure the pasta is evenly distributed all around the paella pan.
- Add the saffron threads and finely grate the lime zest all over the top.
- Bring to a boil and simmer for around 9 minutes or until all the liquid has evaporated and the fideus start sticking up.
- After the initial 5 minutes, add the langoustines and the mussels. Taste the seasoning and correct if necessary.
- Once all the liquid has evaporated, turn the heat off, cover it with some paper sheets (we use newspaper at home although it’s not allowed in restaurants) and leave it to rest for another 3 minutes before serving.
As a suggestion, you can serve the fideua with some aioli sauce, which combines perfectly with this recipe.
The one in the picture is the fideuà from my mother-in-law. As you can see, she doesn’t add any squid, she likes to take the mussels off the shell and she strains the sofrito so the fideuà doesn’t have any bits. Of course, it’s all a matter of taste so you can also prepare it that way!