We all know that paella is one of the heroes of Spanish cuisine, especially at The Paella Club. But have you ever heard of fideuá? Fideuá uses the same cooking process as a paella, however small and short pasta noodles are used instead of rice which creates a completely different texture and flavour profile to that of a paella. Fideuá is also cooked in the same type of pan as a paella. Typically this dish is made with a range of seafood such as cuttlefish, clams, mussels, langostines and calamari. The ‘black’ version uses the ink from the cuttlefish and is unique as the ink creates an interesting depth of flavour. Like paella, the origins of this dish revolve around the region of Valencia and over the course of history, fideua has made its way onto the menus of restaurants and into Spanish households along the Mediterranean coast. This dish is served with aioli on the side – a paste made with raw garlic cloves, olive oil and sea salt.
The cooking process of a fideua is very similar to a paella. But first it is important to toast the short pasta noodles in a dry pan without oil until they are a golden brown colour. The noodles are then removed from the pan and set aside, and the slow cooking process of the sofrito begins. The sofrito is the flavour base of the fideuá and is slowly developed through caramelising ingredients and concentrating the flavour of the vegetables, saffron and tomato puree. It is very important to take time with the sofrito as this is the difference between a fideuá without a good depth of flavour, and one that tastes amazing. The toasted noodles are then added back into the pan. The seafood broth is then added and the heat is turned up to medium high to cook the noodles, evaporate and concentrate the broth and much like a paella – develop the socarrat. Socarrat translates to ‘scorched’, and this process creates a beautiful layer of crispy, caramelised and slightly burnt pasta noodles on the bottom of the pan. The final dish presents a pan of highly flavoured, fine worm-like noodles with a texture that makes them incredibly moorish and it can be hard to say no to a second or even third serve.
There are a number of restaurants in Barcelona which offer a good fideua. Can Ramonet in the neighbourhood of Barceloneta is a favourite of ours, offers an excellent fideua and also has an outside terrace which is a suitable dining space in both the summer and the winter. Service is a little staggered, however the food is excellent and the restaurant is always busy so booking ahead could be a good option. You may have already enjoyed The Paella Club experience and might even be back again, but now it’s time to get the slippery noodles of the fideuá into your travel plans when visiting Barcelona. We’re excited to hear what you think!