COMPLEXITY: MODERATE | PREP TIME: 25 MINUTES | COOK TIME: 25 MINUTES | SERVES: 6
"Fideua is a Valencian pasta dish cooked in the style of a paella, using tiny macaroni-style pasta instead of rice. The crust that forms on the base of this dish is known by various terms including socarrar, to singe - this will only form if you leave the dish alone to get on with things itself. It should stick to the pan, as with paella, firm enough to be scraped off, but caught before it burns. This is not something to cook by the clock, or by the book, but something you get to know by making it over and over again, learning to trust your pan, your ingredients and your skill." - NIGEL SLATER
1 medium-sized onion
2 squid, cleaned
3 tbsp (45 ml) olive oil
4 cloves garlic
1 1/3 lb (600 g) tomatoes
2 level tbsp sweet smoked paprika
generous pinch of saffron (optional)
18 oz (500 g) pasta, such as stortini bucati
1 qt (1 litre) chicken (p. 482) or fish (p. 483)
12 large shrimp/prawns, uncooked
9 oz (250 g) clams
Peel the onion and cut it into small dice. Remove the tentacles from one of the squid and cut the body sac into small dice. Cut the second squid into wide strips, removing the tentacles as you go, and set aside.
Place a shallow paella pan over a medium heat and pour in 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the diced squid and cook quickly, letting it sizzle and colour lightly on both sides.
Peel the garlic and slice each clove very finely, then add to the pan, still set over a medium heat, together with a little more oil if needed. Chop the tomatoes, fairly finely, add them and all their juice to the pan, and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Stir in the paprika, saffron (if using), and pasta.
Let the pasta toast for a minute, then pour on the stock, season with salt, bring to the boil and leave to cook for 8 minutes, or until twothirds of the liquid has evaporated. At this point do not stir again until a fine crust has formed on the base.
While the pasta cooks, warm the remaining tablespoon (15 ml) of oil in a shallow pan, add the reserved strips of raw squid and the shrimp/prawns, and cook for 2 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove immediately.
Place the clams and mussels, and the squid and shrimp/prawns, over the surface of the pasta, then make a loose dome of kitchen foil over the pan and leave everything to steam for 2 or 3 minutes, till the mussels and clams have opened. Serve immediately.
Preparation: Have everything ready before you start.
Key element: Allow the base to crust over to create the socarrar.
Tip: Use a trusted paella or non-stick pan, and ensure you have control over the heat.
Comment: Toasting instead of cooking the pasta gives this dish a delicious nutty flavor
Nigel Slater's Fideua from The Recipe by Josh Emett, image copyright © Kieran E. Scott, design copyright © Blackwell and Ruth Ltd, 2019. | Fideua recipe from A Year of Good Eating by Nigel Slater (Harper Collins Publishers Ltd, 2015).