Text Susan Jung / Photography Jonathan Wong / Styling Nellie Ming Lee
The Spanish rice dish paella is well known; not so familiar is fideuà, which is made in the same type of pan, using fideo - thin vermicelli noodles (and for this dish, they're short - about 1.5cm long). Unfortunately, I've never tasted this dish in Valencia, where it originated, so haven't tried a truly authentic version. According to Anya von Bremzen, in The New Spanish Table (and on whose recipe this one is based), the version I cook would make a Valencian recoil in horror because it combines seafood and meat and also uses green peas (which I add for colour). But I like it, as do the friends I've cooked it for. If you're having a Spaniard to dinner, though, omit the chorizo and add other types of seafood, such as clams or small mussels.
Fideua with allioli
I used a very large paella pan for this recipe; if yours is smaller, halve the ingredients. The small shrimp or prawns are used to make the seafood stock, so they don't need to be the expensive type.
Make the allioli first, so the flavours have time to blend. The original recipe uses a higher proportion of extra-virgin olive oil, but I find the flavour too strong. If you prefer, go back to the original proportions of two parts olive oil to one part canola.
For the allioli:
120ml extra-virgin olive oil
120ml canola oil
4 large garlic cloves, peeled
2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
20ml fresh lemon juice, or to taste, at room temperature
Fine sea salt
For the fideua:
6-8 fresh squid (with bodies about 8cm long)
500 grams small fresh shrimp or prawns
1 red bell pepper
A large pinch of saffron strands
250 grams Spanish chorizo
500 grams short fideo
About 30ml cooking oil
1 medium-sized onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 tsp sweet paprika
250 grams chopped canned or fresh tomatoes
8-12 large fresh shrimp or prawns (with bodies about 10cm long)
About 75 grams petits pois, thawed, if frozen
Fine sea salt
Mix the olive oil and canola oil in a measuring cup with a spout that makes it easy to pour. Put the garlic cloves on a cutting board and sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Use the side of a cleaver to crush the garlic to a paste. Transfer the garlic to a blender or food processor and add the egg yolks. With the motor running, add the oil a few drops at a time, letting it emulsify before adding more. Once a stable emulsion has been established, start adding the oil in a slow, steady stream. Occasionally mix in some of the lemon juice. Once all the oil and lemon juice have been added, season to taste with salt. If the mixture is too thick, add more lemon juice or some warm water. Scrape the mixture into a bowl and leave for about an hour.
Clean the squid by pulling the head and tentacles from the body. Pull out and discard the guts and clear quill, then pull off and discard the skin. Rinse the bodies inside and out, then slice them about 5mm thick. Discard the heads. Put the tentacles in a saucepan and add the small shrimp or prawns and 1.5 litres of water. Place the pan over a medium flame and bring to the boil. Cover the pan with the lid then lower the heat and simmer for 45 minutes. Pour the ingredients into a colander set over a clean pan. Press on the ingredients to extract as much of the liquid as possible then discard the solids. Put the pan with the seafood stock over a low flame and keep it hot.
Roast the red pepper under the grill or in a pan to char it slightly. Discard the core and seeds, then cut the pepper into 5mm-wide strips. Put the saffron strands into a small bowl and add a ladleful of the hot seafood stock, then leave it to infuse. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
Slice the chorizo about 8mm thick. Put the pieces in a paella pan set over a medium flame and cook until they are slightly browned. Remove the chorizo from the pan, leaving behind as much fat as possible. Add the fideo to the pan and stir frequently over a low flame until the noodles are lightly toasted. Transfer the fideo to a bowl.
Pour the cooking oil into the paella pan, add the onion and a light sprinkling of salt and cook over a low flame until soft. Add the garlic and paprika and stir for about 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, for about five minutes, or until the mixture has thickened slightly. Put the fideo back into the pan, season lightly with salt and stir to combine all the ingredients. Stir in the saffron and soaking liquid, plus 750ml of the seafood stock. Turn the flame to medium high and bring to the boil, stirring often, then reduce the heat to medium. Stir constantly until most of the liquid has been absorbed. Add another 500ml of the hot seafood stock to the pan, bring to the boil and stir thoroughly. Smooth the surface of the noodles and arrange the large shrimp or prawns on top. Transfer the pan to the oven and cook for about five minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and arrange the squid rings and chorizo over the fideo. Scatter the petits pois over the surface. Put the pan back into the oven and continue to cook for about five minutes, or until the fideo is tender, most of the liquid has been absorbed and the seafood is cooked. Transfer the pan to the largest burner on your stove and turn the flame to medium high. Move the pan around over the heat so the fideuà gets lightly but evenly toasted on the bottom of the pan. Turn off the flame and leave the fideuà for about five minutes before serving with lemon wedges and the allioli.