The most widely accepted theory on the origin of this wonderful seaside dish states that it dates back to the early 20th century.
The story goes like this- the Santa Isabel fishing boat set sail to fish, as always, very early in the morning from the Port of Gandia in Alicante. When lunchtime came, the cook, who had planned on making a seafood paella, realised that he didn’t have any rice.
As he had already begun frying the rest of the ingredients and had everything ready, he had to improvise. He found some long fideos in the boat’s pantry, cut it up and used it in the same way he would have used the rice. The result was excellent and went down a treat among the boat’s crew.
Nowadays, the technique has evolved a little, for example, in terms of the toasting of the fideos, a key part of this dish.
One of the most important parts of a good fideua (or fideuá) is the fish stock or fumet. This stock is often made with rough fish or small rockfish but you can also use fish bones or prawn heads. Or, if you don’t have the time to make it from scratch, you can always buy it pre-made.
The following is the traditional fideua recipe from Gandia.
Ingredients (4 people):
- 4 langoustines
- 12 prawns
- 400 grams of monkfish
- 400 grams of fideos number 4 or 3. Do not use hollow fideos. If you can’t find Spanish fideos number 4 like this one in Amazon, you can try cut spaguetti pasta like this one from Barelli
- 1 crushed tomato (150 g)
- Pimentón de la vera dulce (sweet Paprika) (8-10 g). We highly recommend this one.
- ½ a large onion, diced
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 200 ml of extra virgin olive oil (approx)
- 1.5 litres of fish stock
Ingredients for the Stock:
- 1/2 a kilo of rockfish or any other fish you have (bones and heads of monkfish, sole, red mullet, hake…)
- 1 onion
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 1 carrot
- 1 leek
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 litres of water
- Add the prawns and the langoustines to the Paella Pan with the hot oil and cook until golden.
- Once golden, after 2-3 minutes of stirring, remove them from the pan.
- Add the diced onion and garlic and fry.
- Then add the monkfish and cook until golden.
- Add the crushed tomato and paprika and continue frying, be careful not to burn the paprika.
- Add the fideos and fry for 3 minutes so that the flavours from the other ingredients in the pan are absorbed by the fideos.
- Add 1 litre of stock. The ratio is around just over 2 parts stock to 1 part fideos.
- Cook for 10 minutes on high heat.
- Taste it and add salt if necessary.
- Arrange the prawns and langoustines on top of the pasta in a nice pattern.
- Turn the heat to medium and leave to cook for another 10 minutes. If it looks like the stock is being absorbed very quickly, add a little more.
- Take it off the heat and leave to rest uncovered for 5 minutes so that any excess stock can be absorbed.
When ready, it should be a smooth fideua and not look like soupy rice.
Tip: Unlike the traditional method of preparing pasta, you should never add the stock before adding the fideos. The trick is to fry the fideos before adding the stock as this lets them absorb the flavours of the other ingredients and allows a film to form on the fideos which keeps it from overcooking.