Saturday, January 3, 2015

Seafood Fideos

SEAFOOD FIDEOS // smoky shellfish soup
Happy New Year, everyone.  I hope 2015 brings some new adventures to your life, and to your kitchen.  If you're looking for a bit of culinary experimentation with some potentially unfamiliar ingredients, here's a seafood dish you might try.  Personally, this was my first time procuring and cooking clams and mussels at home, and I found it pretty brainless and delicious.  

If you generally like shellfish and seafood, you're going to love fideos.  I think most versions of the recipe you'll find online mimic Spanish paella - cooking seafood and rice in a flavorful broth until it gets completely absorbed and the shellfish steam open.  Fideos more or less replaces rice with a pasta (called "fideos"), but angel hair works just fine.  You'll see that this recipe is also modified to get more of a soup at the end, but you could easily increase the amount of pasta or decrease the amount of stock for a more traditional outcome.   

While the dish isn't that complicated to make, it really does depend on a few fancy ingredients of good quality.  It took a trip to the fancy grocery store (a.ka. Whole Foods) to make sure I got good bacon, sausage, and seafood.  Of course, saffron doesn't come cheap, either.  While you obviously want the seafood to be as fresh as possible, the smokier your bacon and chorizo are, the better layers of flavor you're going to get when all is said and done.  That smokiness, and the richness of the saffron, are the real backbone of the dish.  So, while I used a traditional mix of clams, mussels, shrimp, and cod, you can choose whatever shellfish and firm white fish you want (or eliminate anything you don't want).  Ideally, you buy the shellfish the day of, and keep it on ice until use, but I don't see why you couldn't make the broth ahead of time and return it to the stove to cook the seafood when you want it served.

Fideos is easy to make in large quantities with the right sized pot, so this is a great recipe for your next nice dinner party or date-night in.  It's pretty healthy, too.  And don't be worried about having leftovers, I found it reheated very nicely to finish the following day.  

Ingredients (makes 4 large servings):

  • 2 thick slices (~ 2 oz) smoked bacon, roughly chopped
  • 8 oz angel hair pasta, broken into 2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 poblano pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 tbsp. salt
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 small can (15 oz) chopped tomato, drained
  • 4 oz chorizo sausage, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 6 cups low-sodium vegetable stock
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp. saffron (depending on how fancy you feel)
  • 8 oz fresh cod filet, cut into four portions
  • 16 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 16 little neck clams
  • 24 (~ 1.5 lbs) fresh mussels
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • additional salt to taste
  • chopped parsley for garnish
  1. In a large pot or dutch oven, sear the bacon over medium-high heat until crispy.
  2. Add the broken pasta to toast, stirring constantly for 3-4 minutes until noodles brown.
  3. Add the onion, poblano, and salt.  Cook 3-4 minutes to sweat the vegetables.  
  4. Then add the garlic, and right when you can smell it (about 30 seconds later) add the white wine.  Bring to a simmer.
  5. When the wine is cooked off, add the chorizo, tomato, and spices.  Return to a simmer.
  6. Add stock and saffron.  Return to a simmer once again. Taste the broth for seasoning, adding more salt, if needed.
  7. Cook the seafood in the stock in stages.  Start by adding the cod, and let that cook on its own for three minutes. Then add the clams and mussels.  Cover and cook for five minutes.  Finally add the shrimp. Cover and cook for a few more minutes until the clams and mussels have all opened.  
  8. Season with any salt needed, and the lemon juice. Garnish with parsley and serve.  

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