Monday, 27 February 2012

Traditional Spanish Pasta

Fideua packet by De Irene Exquisita
First to be clear, Spanish pasta doesn’t mean pasta with chorizo or ham. Actually what we can call like authentic Spanish pasta in whole Spain the variety is very scarce. Why? Well is very difficult to understand because in the roman times the Iberian peninsula was a wheat stock for the Roman Empire and later on the Moorish introduce the pasta almost at the same time than Sicily, but for some reason the pasta in Spain with the following exception has been a rarity and still today outside Catalonia or Valencia regions a rarity find a good pasta restaurant. Today pasta is more popular between the families and although a lot of Italian restaurants have opened still a big gap between both countries so if you are going to Spain avoid asking for Italian style pasta and go for the traditional Spanish pasta, the only one that the Spanish can cook and very well.

Catalan Cannelloni

Saint Stephan Catalan Cannelloni. Photo by
If Spain has a pasta region it must be Catalonia, and they have unique pasta adaptation, the Catalonian cannelloni, that also are the traditional dish for Saint Stephan (Catalonian Boxing Day). The tradition of eating cannelloni in Catalonia is quite new, started the last century when Italian, French and Swiss workers arrive to Catalonia.
I am just going to explain the Catalonian more traditional filling for the cannelloni tubes

Filling ingredients¹: 125g ground beef – 125g ground pork – 1 chicken or turkey breast (cubed) – 200g chicken livers (cut in small pieces) or 100g foie gras – 1 leek (sliced into thin rings) – 1 onion sliced - 2 ½ tbsp breadcrumbs. 4 tbsp. tbsp sun dried tomato pureé

1. In a medium deep wide pan with 3 tbsp. of olive oil fry the vegetables for 4 minutes then add the ground meat with the chicken and chicken livers.
2. When the meat is browned add the tomato puree, mix very well.
3. Remove from the heat and add the breadcrumbs. Season.

Filling ingredients²: 125g ground beef – 125g ground pork – 1 chicken or turkey breast (cubed) – 50g of ham – 50g foie gras – 1onion (sliced) 250ml chicken stock – 200 ml white dry wine – 3 tbsp sun dried tomato pureé.

1. In a medium deep wide pan with 3 tbsp. of olive oil fry the onion for 4 minutes then add the ground meat with the chicken until the meat is browned
2. Add the ham, and after 3 minutes add the wine and leave to reduce in a slow heat.
3. Finally add the foie gras with the tomato and the chicken stock. Half reduce and season.

Then you just fill the cannelloni tubes and top with béchamel sauce (white sauce) and heat in the oven for 20 minutes.

Fideuá with Clams

Fideua with clams. Photo by Victor
Fideuá is a kind of noodle pasta introduced in the Arabian times in the Iberian peninsula. Today is very popular in almost all Spain and the traditional fideuá is more or less a paella made with noodles. The only problem is that in England is not very easy to find those little short noodles that make the fideuá so special. Many British chef recommend to make it with vermicelli noodles. Honestly I tried but for me doesn’t work at all. You can buy it on Internet, but just is good to know that in Spanish supermarkets 1kg of fideuá just cost 1 €.

You need: 250g of fideuá (4 serves) – 300g monkfish fillet or other firm white (cubed) -200g clams (cleaned) – 80g green peas – 1 onion (chopped) 3 garlic cloves (chopped) - 2 tbsp sun dried tomato purée – 400g can of chopped tomato – 1tsp Spanish paprika – 300ml stock (fish or vegetable). Parsley and lemon in wedges to serve.

1. Heat 3 tbsp. of olive oil in a wide pans at least 8 cms deep. Stir in the garlic, onion with the tomato puree, sauté for 5 minutes. Then add the tomatoes and stock. Bring to boil
2. Add the white fish and the paprika. Simmer for 3 minutes.
3. Stir in the pasta, green peas and clams. First read the pasta packet instruction but usually take 4-6 minutes same time to green peas and clams to open. Give everything a couple of stir very gentle.
4. Remove from the heat and let to rest for 2 minutes. Scatter over the parsley and lemon juice from one of the lemon wedges.

Seafood Fideuá

Seafood Fideua. Photo by webosfritos
You need: 250g of fideuá (4 serves) – 200g monkfish fillet or other firm white (cubed) -100g clams (cleaned) – 8 scampi or prawns - 8 rings of cuttle fish (or one cuttle fish cleaned and chopped) – 4 ripe tomatoes (chopped) 2 garlic cloves (chopped) - 300ml stock (fish or vegetable) - 1tsp Spanish paprika - pinch of saffron and 100ml extra olive oil

1. Heat 2 tbsp. of olive oil in a wide pans at least 8 cms deep, and sauté the fish. Set aside and then sauté the scampi or prawns with the calamari rings, set aside as well.
The same with the clams, sautee until they are open, (about 3 minutes). discard any open clams.
2. In the same pan stir in the garlic, when start to brown, add the chopped tomato and paprika, stir and quickly add the fish stew. Simmer for 4 minutes. (if the packet time said cook for 6 minutes)
3. Add a pinch of saffron and then the fideuá noodles, simmer at a medium heat for about 4 minutes.
4. Add the fish and the rest of seafood, and let simmer the last 2 minutes remaining.

 Fideua is popular served with extra lemon wedges on the sides of the pan or plates and also with ali-oli sauce. I like fideua al dente like the Italian pasta, but in Spain in every family the cooking time is to the taste of the chef. The same happen with the quantity of fish stock, some people like a bit more wet and another a bit more drier. If get too dry for your taste you always can add a splash of hot stock or plain hot water

Malaga Noodle Stew

Malga Noodle Soup by Chef Alberto Reina
You need: 100g fideuá - 200g cod fillet (cubed) – 200g clams (cleaned) – 1 green pepper (chopped) 1 small onion (chopped) 200g potatoes ( dice into small pieces) – 2 tomatoes (skinned and diced) – 1 garlic clove (chopped) – Saffron threads – 1ltr fish stock . Chives or parsley to serve

1. Heat in a deep pan at medium heat 4 tbsp. of olive oil and sauté the green pepper, garlic, onion and tomatoes for 6-8 minutes. Add the cod or another firm white fish and cook for 3 extra minutes. Remove from the heat and reserve apart
2. In the same pan, heat the stock with a few saffron threads and add the potatoes.
3. When the potatoes are almost cooked, add the vegetables, clams and noodles. Remove from the heat when the pasta is cooked and the clams open (4-5 min) Discard any closed clams.
4. Serve and scatter over some parsley or chopped chives.

In some places in Malaga they add to the stew 100g ground almonds with 200 ml of dry white wine. Stir in before you add the pasta and clams.


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