Fideua (Seafood Pasta Paella)

I love PITTSBURGH! Gosh, I love this city. From the gorgeous brick homes as far as the eye can see to the deep rooted cultures, this city is full of amazement. There’s a ton of stuff to do when you have kids and plenty of bars to visit when you don’t. I am partial to the Strip District. I could live on the Strip. I may have spent, always do, a small fortune at the strip. If you love to eat food, love to cook food, this is the place for you.

Between the fabulous home cooked meals from our friends, Kyle and Laura and the Strip, I gained 10 pounds. You may remember the last time I spoke about Kyle, Laura and Pittsburgh in the post I did about Caramel Popcorn.

After we broke the bank at all my favorite shops on the strip, Kyle and Laura introduced us to this kitchen co-op sort of thing called Smallman Galley. It’s located in the Strip District. There are 4 kitchens and 2 bars in one location. Very similar to a food court, but the food is all created by local folks, not corporations. I split a Curry Pork Banh Mi from Banhmilicious and an El Pastor Sandwich from Joey’s Snack Bar with my husband. I should’ve taken a photo of this deliciousness so I could look back longingly at the photos. All I have now are my memories. #sogood

Kyle and Laura did some of their own shopping at the Strip for dinner that evening. Since, I already knew this meal would be amazing because they’ve got skillz, I asked if I could document and blog post about it. They obliged and you are in for a treat.

Fideua is a Spanish dish similar to paella, but made with noodles instead of rice. Kyle first had this dish on one of his trips to Spain many years ago. Kyle and Laura were recently reminded of this deliciousness when they went to San Fransisco for their ten year anniversary. Whilst in Sonoma, they came across this tapas restaurant called Bravas Bar de Tapas. They served Fideua! They added a flavorful aioli to help balance out the acidic notes of the tomatoes. Kyle and Laura recreated the Fideua with a Citrus Aioli for us!

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The only thing I said as I stuffed my face full of this goodness and went back for seconds was how well the aioli plays in this dish. Laura looked at me and said, “Makes me wonder what other dishes have been missing aioli.” Which I had to agree. I would have never thought to add an aioli to a pasta dish. Sure, a piece of fish, a sandwich, but pasta? YES, PASTA! An aioli is an emulsified egg sauce typically seasoned with garlic. An easier way to get the same effect is seasoning a good quality mayonnaise.

I won’t keep you much longer, because I implore you to make this dish. The name may sound complicated and make you think that you could never make this dish. However, this is a quintessential one pot meal. The only requirement is your procurement of an 18 inch paella pan, at least. They are relatively inexpensive. Sure, you can get expensive, but there is no need. I found one on Amazon that has good reviews for under $30. The shape of the pan is important to the evaporation of the liquid. Invite 6-8 friends over and start cooking!

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FIDEUA WITH A CITRUS AIOLI:

1 pound of Spaghetini or thin spaghetti

1 onion, chopped

1 red pepper, chopped

A few cloves of garlic, rough chop

1 1/2 pounds of shrimp, peeled and deveined

2 pounds of mussels or clams

1 pound of swordfish or some kind of steak fish or scallops

1 1/2 pounds of Spanish Style Chorizo (Parma’s Chorizo is AMAZING)

28 ounce can of San Marzano Tomatoes (or Fresh Garden Tomatoes, Grated)

3-4 cups of Seafood or Chicken Stock (Kyle loves to make his own and freeze it)

Sauvignon Blanc or favorite dry white wine

Olive oil

Pinch of Saffron

Salt

CITRUS AIOLI:

1 cup of good quality mayonnaise

1 teaspoon of orange zest

1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard

1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper

1/4 cup of olive oil

1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice

Healthy pinch of salt

CAUTION: Before you leave the store with your seafood, give it a good whiff. If it smells like anything other than fresh seawater, do not buy it. Fish should not smell like fish.

Start with the aioli and get it out of the way. Basically, mix all the ingredients into a bowl and give it a good whisk. You can even use a food processor if you want. Store the aioli in a tightly sealed container in the fridge for up to a week.

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If you follow my blog you know I am all about practicing Mise en Place. Which is French for everything in its place. Chop up all your veggies, fish, gather spices and liquids because once you start cooking you’ll want everything in its place.

Chop up the onions and peppers, set aside in a small bowl.

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Break up the pasta into quarters and set aside in a bowl.

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Cut up any fish, throw out any mussels that are open, cube the chorizo and set aside in bowls. Yes, there are a lot of bowls, but that’s why we have dishwashers! Open up the canned tomatoes (or grate your fresh garden tomatoes), grab the stock, pour yourself a glass of wine (save some for the meal) and gather your spices.

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It’s time to head to the grill! Gas or electric will work for this. Since the pan is so big, you need an open fire. Below is a picture of a chimney. This is the best device for charcoal grills. You fill it up with charcoal, add some newspaper underneath and set the paper on fire. In less than 20 minutes, you have some hot A$$ coals.

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Pour the coals into the grill and set your paella pan right on top of the grill rack. Get it nice and hot.

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Add a healthy dose of olive oil and once it’s hot, add the onions and peppers. Cook until soft, about 4-5 minutes.

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While the peppers and onions do its thing, get your chorizo and pasta ready for the pan and maybe a tasty local beer for drinking. Hitchhiker Brewing Company.

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Add the chorizo to the pan and toss it around for a minute or two.

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Add the pasta and toast the noodles for 2-3 minutes.

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Pour in a healthy splash of wine. Give the wine a minute or two to cook down. This is where you have to just trust yourself. Cooking like this is not an exact science. Have confidence you won’t mess this up.

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Add the tomatoes, stock and the saffron. Give it a good stir. You want to add just enough stock for the liquid to absorb into the pasta. Start with 3 cups. The crusty bits that form along the bottom of the pan are delightful. If you did pour in too much liquid, no worries, you may not end up with crusty bits, but you will most certainly not be disappointed in the final result.

Add a splash more of olive oil and all your seafood. Give it a stir and close the grill lid.

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In about 3-5 minutes, the pasta should be cooked, the mussels should have opened up and the shrimp is pink. Check the swordfish for doneness and take the fideua off the grill. Let it rest for a few minutes.

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Plate the meal and serve with a dollop of aioli and some good crusty bread!

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Thank you, Kyle and Laura for your hospitality and amazing food. You got me to eat fish and that’s saying a lot! See you real soon.

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