Valencian paella is world-renowned for its delicious flavor, but what happens when you cross it with pasta? In short, fideuá emulates paella in everything but its base carb - angel hair noodles instead of rice. As the story goes, it was designed to quell a greedy captain’s appetite aboard his ship and keep his crew from starving! Let’s review the past and present of this swashbuckling Spanish dish.
Back in 1915, fishing ship cook Joan Batiste Pascual faced a dilemma - the captain was regularly eating more than his share of the tasty seafood paella during voyages, leaving his crew hungry. His solution, therefore, was to swap the rice for short pasta noodles, hoping that this would satisfy the captain more quickly. The history books are skeptical that the plan actually worked, but this original recipe has stuck fast in the region to become a local favorite. The cook endearingly named his dish ‘daughter of the sea’ owing to it being concocted onboard, and it later took on the term fideuá, an abbreviation of the Valencian colloquial word fideuada - meaning a large amount of noodles.
Fideuá involves a very similar cooking method to paella, or arroz a banda, using an array of seafood, such as monkfish, squid, cuttlefish, shrimp - everything that’s available along the Mediterranean coastline. You’ll find that these short noodles tend to crisp up on top as there is only a minimal amount of stock used - just like paella. In contrast to paella, we can break Spanish etiquette when it comes to fideuá - and serve it with a big dollop of garlicky alioli!
As if you need any more encouragement to opt for fideuá next time, we can tell you that some of the top dining spots from coast to coast are already dishing out this casual seafood chow - but daily and not just on Fridays like in Barcelona, Spain, where fideuá eating is rife!