Last night we ate Fideua, a fairly controversial thing to do for the Three Kings Feast, as no self respecting Spaniard would eat that for dinner. It would most definitely be considered a lunch dish. It’s made with fine pasta vermicelli instead of rice with whatever you have from the sea. It was delicious. I hung around the kitchen while it was being made which is always the best way to unlock the secret of making a dish. It seems the stock is the most important ingredient, the actual seafood element can be made up of posh small bitty bits. We had prawns and squid. The prawns were peeled and the heads and shells went into the stock pot and the squid were cleaned and sliced into rings.
To make the stock a little olive oil went into a big pot and the prawn heads and shells were fried off. We also had some galera – the dictionary translated as mantis prawns. They are chubby little things which look like cockroaches of the sea. They’re about four centimetres long and aren’t up to much for eating but are great in the stock pot. These got fried up too, then in went a couple of chopped cloves of garlic and a big grated tomato. Once the garlic got going, in went a monkfish head, a handful of little fishes and enough water to barely cover. This was bought to the boil then cooked at a gentle roll for a good hour.
While this was cooking we had an aperitif . When we continued cooking a little oil went into a large shallow pan and the prawns and calamari were quickly fried off and put aside. This just takes a few minutes in a hot pan.
Using the same pan a couple of cloves of garlic were gently fried and then two big fatty tomatoes were grated and added.This all bubbles away into a rich sauce which is seasoned at the end with some salt and smoked paprika.
How much stock? This is the question. I reckon it was about double the amount of pasta so for every 100g pasta, 200mls stock. And maybe a splash for luck. Once everything is bubbling away the heat is turned to medium and the prawns and squid were posted over the top. Five- six minutes later it’s ready for eating.