This blog post was originally posted on March 9, 2016, and was updated on September 6, 2017.
Everyone’s heard of paella, one of Spain’s most famous dishes, but what about its noodle cousin, fideuà? Try making it yourself with this super fideuà recipe.
The important difference between fideuà and paella is the main ingredient, which is of course, rice. Fideuà gets its name from the word fideos. This is the small, vermicelli-type noodle, which replaces the rice in typical famous paella dish. Though the traditional fidueà is made strictly with noodles and cuttlefish, there are dozens of other seafood variations for the fideuà recipe.
To truly understand what exactly fideuà is, first we will have to talk about paella, its Valencian counterpart and possibly one of the most famous dishes throughout Spain. However, there are a lot of misconceptions and confusion about the world-famous dish which we will debunk before we give you our favorite fideuà recipe.
Origins of Paella
First of all, paella is a lunch dish, because it’s evidently it’s quite a heavy, hearty dish and lunch time is the main meal in Spain. Eating paella for dinner really is unheard of. We have big lunches and light dinners here, so of course, paella would be far too heavy for an evening meal. As you now know, the dish is originally from Valencia, where as it happens, rice was typically grown. The original version was surprisingly not made from seafood, but instead snails, rabbit, chicken, and green-beans! Of course, over the years there have been many variations of this typical dish—all including saffron, which gives it its lovely warm color.
Aside from the main difference between these two dishes, which is of course that fideuà is made using small noodles, rather than rice, there is one other very important factor! Fideuà, unlike paella, comes in just one version—and that is a seafood fideuà. It’s also usually served with a healthy dollop of alioli Which is a very simple sauce that is a hugely popular sauce here in Catalonia, made with garlic, oil and a little bit of egg to help it bind. Delicious!
On our Tastes, Tapas and Traditions of Barcelona food tour, we build ourselves up all morning for one of the best fideuàs in town—that of Mama Carmen, the wonderful, oh-so-motherly chef at the small, seaside restaurant Cal Papi in Barceloneta.
Maybe you can’t make it to Barcelona to join us. Or maybe you’ve already come, and can’t stop thinking about the rich, savory flavors of that fideuà. We understand your struggle. So we asked the lovely Carmen for her fideuà recipe. One of the most important ingredients, Carmen insists, is something you can’t buy at any market—lots of love.
Recipe: Mama Carmen’s Fideuà
- A large red pepper, chopped
- 1 green pepper, chopped
- Medium onion, chopped
- 3 tomatoes, pureed
- Around 300g fideos or other small noodles
- 250g cuttlefish, chopped
- 250g raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 3 cups hot fish stock
- You can use a paellera, the typical, shallow pan of paella, or a regular cooking pan.
- Heat up olive oil over medium heat.
- Simmer the onions and peppers for anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour.
- In a separate pan, lightly toast the noodles until golden brown.
- Add the cuttlefish and shrimp to the simmering vegetables.
- Heat up the fish stock and add it to the pan, making sure all ingredients are just covered, and turn up to high.
- Cook on high heat until the mixture begins to boil.
- Lower the heat, and cook on medium-low until all liquid has been absorbed.
- Serve with a healthy dollop of alioli!
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