Fideua / A Noodle Paella…


Strolling down Barcelona’s avenues, you get a pretty good glimpse of what folks are eating at sidewalk tables of various local restaurants. The one dish that we saw often and that really piqued our interest was something that looked like crispy pansit or baked noodles in a paella pan. I had never seen dish this before and though we never got a chance to order it, I purchased the dry noodles needed to give it go when we got back to Manila. The dish is called Fideuá, pronounced “FEE-THEH-WAH.” It is apparently the result of an accident in the 1960’s when someone forgot to bring the rice for a paella and an adventurous cook tried using thin pasta instead. Fideua was thus created in or around the town of Grandia in Valencia, where paellas reign supreme. In the past 40 years, the dish has become quite popular and variations such as those seen in paella also apply to fideua – seafood, black fideua, meats, etc. While it isn’t native to Barcelona, they serve a lot of it in the city’s restaurants…

My wife was in charge of the fideuá experiment(s) last weekend and she made it twice. The first time around, we used some bland-ish kielbasa as suggested in a recipe from a May 1992 Bon fid2Apetit Magazine. It turned out well and was a hit with the kids but we decided to try it again the next day when we had the Spanish guests over for Arroz Negro. We made some modifications and used a better chorizo instead. It tasted great and I think it could become a real favorite among Pinoy gatherings… First, let’s talk about fideo, the thin noodles that are used in the dish. They look like Angel hair pasta but cut shorter, to say an inch or two in length. If you can’t find fideo, use angel hair pasta instead. Here is our recipe… you need to sauté some chopped onion and garlic in a paella pan on your stove top. We used one whole white onion and several cloves of garlic. Saute some good chorizo bilbao, sliced. We used three pieces. Then add some chopped green or red bell peppers (we used the more flavorful local versions) and ½ a pound of chopped mushrooms. Add 3 teaspoons of good sweet paprika (or spicy if you like) and a pinch of cayenne pepper and stir for half a minute or so. Add 3 cups of chicken broth, ½ cup of white wine, some chopped tomatoes (we used half a small can of peeled whole tomatoes, and a tablespoon of tomato paste. Bring to a simmer and add about 500 grams or slightly less of noodles. Stir and cook on the stove top until tender, about 8-10 minutes.

Add a bit more chicken broth if it appears to be drying up too fast. Put into a fid3pre-heated 400 degree oven and let it bake for about 25 minutes or until the top noodles are crisp and crunchy. Remove from the oven and let it rest for 5-10 minutes before serving. I am not sure I would attempt this on a fairly hot charcoal fire…the noodles might singe… You can sprinkle it with chopped flat leaf parsley if you like. The second version we made tasted terrific, a bit like baked spaghetti but the flavor of paprika and the chorizo made this uniquely Spanish. The crispy noodles up top are crunchy but as you dig into the dish it is soft flavorful pasta. Yum. However, I actually like a rice paella better because I think the rice absorbs the flavor better but the noodles were a nice change. As far as accidents go, this is one dish that turned out really well for the hapless cook who forgot to bring the rice…


15 Responses

  1. ei, my first time to post here…
    been reading your blog for 2 months already.
    Very informative blog.
    I love your recipes.

  2. MM,you are full of surprises and it makes it more exciting and interesting.Never heard of this “FEEDENWHAH”,butI don’t mind giving this dish a go. I love food with chorizos and capsicums(bell peppers)in it!

    Have a good day!

  3. Sounds really yummy. Will try this dish one of these days. I think I saw Mario Batali cook his version during his Iron Chef battle.. :)

  4. Would you consider adding seafood to this dish? Shrimp or other kinds of shellfish maybe? I only ask because I have tried a “Paella Pasta” a while back at which I really enjoyed. It sounds very similar to this although it was not baked.

  5. Alicia, definitely do it with shellfish…I think more often than not, this is done with shellfish and a fish stock. Also add saffron strands to improve depth of flavor. Lovely, its wort a try… Mita, I like that description – pancit palabok, the person who made it probably had an ancestor that was a friar in the Philippine islands… linda, there are great capsicums in Australia, they would go well with this dish. Miles, thanks for that link, I just read your comment now, for first time commenters the comment is reviewed first due to all the spam I am getting…I will visit the link and try the seafood version! Thanks.

  6. HOORAY!!!! Thank you, thank you! I was wondering when you mentioned that “Spanish noodle dish” if it could be fideua…and I’m so happy it is :) I loved this dish from the very first moment I tried it (it had bits of squid and I had it with aioli…a must!)…I even like it better than paella…I’ll definitely be trying this one :) Just looking at your picture makes me happy!!! :)

  7. Most likely will try it two or three weeks from now. Will have to study for my exams next week. Im currently taking up culinary arts at ISCAHM. Kitchen week will end tom so will savour this weekend to study.I can imagine the flavor of chorizo el ray in this dish. YUMMMMYYYY!!!

  8. I agree with Joy — this is a happy picture. It makes me hungry. At a cooking demo I hosted once for Margarita Fores, she made an Italian version of this with peas and ground beef.

  9. so no saffron can do? I’d like to try this . . . but I know what will be my problem, my dad will tell me the pasta is not cooked, so whatever explanation he will hear from me he will still say it is not cooked blah blah blah. . . hehe. . .he doesn’t know how to listen to the chef. . .

  10. Fideua did in fact originate from Gandia in the Valencian Communitat where we have a holiday home. The story goes around here that fishermen were making a paella on board their boat but someone forgot to bring the rice so someone had the bright idea of substituting vermicelli noodles (although we have had variations of thin pasta including your variation of angel hair) its pronounced Fid u a – and very nice it is too – I will be having one in the next week when we spend Christmas there.

  11. I remember my lola from Pampanga who was a cook for an old matriarch of the sugar days of San Fernando, she would make a pasta dish which she said whose recipe was just passed down to her (as was most dishes then). She’d boil a flavorful pork portion (pata usually) in whole onion whole carrot and several celery stalks with bay leaf and whole pepper. When cooked this stock would be allowed to reduce until it was almost a moss green color (yes green!!) meantime in another stock pot she would sautee onions, garlic, onion leeks, then she would take the boiled pork and slice to bite size portions and add this to the sautee, add hotdogs sliced diagonally (the brown one not red) until slightly browned, to this you would add back the stock with some water to have enough for the spaghetti you add. a tsp of atsuete in some hot stock to turn it orange, then you then break up spaghetti into 1 to 2 inch size and put this into this pot. Get your flame down low, and 5 minutes before its done add green peas, the soft kind NOT canned. Salt and pepper to taste then after 5 minutes transfer this mixture onto a serving plate and enjoy! That sounds like something close to your Fiduea which has been enjoyed in Pampanga for a lot longer than the 60’s.



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