One of the great perks of living in Crouch End is that we have a local fishmonger. I usually reserve Saturdays for doing a nice fish dish and back in December I decided to do Fiduea. What i found out about the fishmonger when doing this recipe is that it's always better to get there early in the day rather than late in the day. There's simply way more choice if you do. I had hoped for fresh prawns and clams and had to opt instead for frozen prawns and mussels instead of clams. The end result was still marvelous though.
Fideua is basically the same as paella, but instead of rice you use pasta. The pasta pieces come in all different widths and are usually about 3 CM long. An easy alternative is to get a packet of spaghetti and break it into small bits. I happened to have two packets of fideua noodles that i picked up on one of our trips to Spain, so used one of them in this recipe.
The recipe I used comes from Casa Moro by Sam and Sam Clark.
Fideua serves 6 as a starter, 4 as a main course
300g North Atlantic prawns, preferably in their shells
1 ltr fish stock
a small pinch of saffron
6 Tbs olive oil
300g monkfish fillets, trimmed and cut into 2-3cm pieces
1 large spanish onion, finely chopped
1 green pepper, seeded and finely chopped
5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1 x 400g can plum tomatoes, drained and chopped
2 dried noras peppers, seeds and stalks removed, broken into small pieces and covered with boiling water, or 1 tsp sweet paprika
250g fideos (grade 2 thickness) or spaghettini, snapped into 3-4cm lengths
250g clams, such as palourdes, washed well and any broken or open clams discarded
sea salt and black pepper
2 Tbs roughly chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 quantity Alioli
1 lemon, cut into wedges
- Peel the prawns and put in the fridge. Transfer the shells to a large saucepan over a high heat an add the fish stock. Bring to a gently simmer and cook for 15 minutes for the seafood flavour to infuse the stock. Remove from the heat, strain the stock and add the saffron. Set aside.
- Heat 2 Tbsp of olive oil in a 30-40cm paella pan or frying pan over a medium to high heat. When the oil is hot and just beginning to smoke add the pieces of monkfish and stir-fry for about 2 minutes until sealed on all sides but fractionally undercooked in the centre. Transfer the monkfish and any juices to a bowl and put to one side. Wipe the pan clean with kitchen paper and put back on the heat. Add the remaining olive oil and, when it is hot the onion, green pepper and noras peppers, and cook for 5 minutes, then lower the heat to medium and cook for another 10-15 minutes, stirring every so often. Now add the chopped garlic and fennel seeds and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and cook for a further 5 minutes. Now add the fideos to the pan and stir for 1 minute to coat with the oily base. (Up to this point everything can be cooked in advance. The next stage should be started about 20 minutes before you wish to eat.)
- When you are ready to cook the fideos, heat up your stock. Put the paella or frying pan over a medium to high heat, add the hot stock and season perfectly with salt and pepper. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, depending on the thickness of the fideos, or until al dente. Add the pieces of monkfish and clams, pushing them down into the pasta, and turn the heat to low. Cook for 5 more minutes, then add the prawns, turn off the heat and cover the pan tightly with foil. Let the fiduea sit for 2-3 minutes, check the seasoning and sprinkle the parsley over the top. Serve with alioli and wedges of lemon. Some people like to finish off fiduea in a hot oven or under a grill to get the pasta crispy and coloured on top.