Spain brings to mind the rhythmic sounds of castanets, the feel of hot sun, its sun-kissed beaches, spectacle of bull-fight and the taste of hot and spicy foods which is as vibrant as its culture and history. Seafood from tiny pink shrimps to giant lobster, calamari or squids to clams, mussels, fresh marine catches always get featured in any Spanish cuisine and seafood remains the heart of any Spanish cooking.
Couple of years back when I got to experience the Spanish food, I was excited and a chance to learn a different cuisine which sounds so familiar to our very own Indian cuisine, left me super excited. It was my first hands on experience and that too in a commercial kitchen of a Spanish restaurant under the guidance of a reputed chef, how can I let go off this wonderful opportunity ?
Vermicelli is not new to any Indian foodies, but cooking them in seafood stock definitely caught my attention. The dish was fideua which is very similar to another landmark dish of the region, Paella. Spanish cuisine may look similar to Indian cuisine but only at superficial level, the condiments that are being used in the recipes varies widely.
What we learnt that sofrito and picada forms the base for any Paella and fiduea dishes, other than this romesco and alioli are the essential sauce or dips for tapas or snacks. That was the first time too when I got to taste the spanish paprika, mild and hot both. Along with saffron, paprika is an essential spice to Spanish cooking and smoked paprkia specially for dishes like paella or fideua for more deep, intense and woodsy flavour.
Recipe: Fideua with seafood / vermicelli with shrimps
- Vermicelli : 250 gm roasted in a pan
- Olive oil : 3 tbsp
- Onion (yellow) : 1 finely chopped
- Garlic cloves : 1 chopped
- Paprika (hot) : 1 tbsp
- Seafood stock : 1 cup
- Dry white wine : 1/4 cup
- Bay leaf : 1
- Spanish saffron : 1 large pinch
- Shrimps : 200 gm
- Salt to taste
- Sofrito : 1/2 cup
- (for sofrito –
- tomatoes : 4 large blanched and skinned
- onion : 1 medium finely chopped
- sweet paprika powder : 1 tbsp
- olive oil : 1 tbsp
- black pepper : 1 tsp )
- Special equipment : paella pan
- Prepare the sofrito :
- Heat the olive oil in a pan and saute the onions till it becomes soft. Add the grated tomatoes and sweet paprika and continue cooking over a slow flame until dry. Adjust the seasonings as required and pulse in a food processor for few seconds to get a smooth texture.
- Pre-heat the oven to 350 F.
- Heat olive oil in a paella pan and saute chopped onion and garlic until the onion begins to soften.
- Next add the paprika and sofrito, raise the heat to high and cook until it has thickened.
- Now add the wine, stock, bay leaf and saffron (soaked in hot 2 tbsp water) and bring to boil.
- Add the vermicelli and cook for 5 minutes before adding the seafood.
- Adjust the seasonings as required and cook in the oven till done.
1) Traditionally these are made in paella pan, so that heat distribution is equal and once it is set, should not be disturbed and finish it in the oven for crisper top.
2) But if you do not have paella pan, you can prepare this in your flat pan, just transfer it carefully in a oven proof dish and cook till done. It may not imitate the traditions but it will not affect the taste.
3) A good fish or seafood stock is essential for making a tasty fideua.
4) Kalamari or squid rings adds good taste to the dish, if possible use them in the recipe.
5) Other than squids, clams and mussels also goes well with the dish.
6) Do not substitute paprika with chilli powder.
7) You can use the leftover sofrito in your Indian dish by adding more seasonings.
Preparation time: 20 minute(s)
Cooking time: 20 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 2
Culinary tradition: Spanish
Drizzle some garlic alioli over the hot fideua and enjoy !!!