Every month the challenge of the MTC becomes bigger and bigger. And, in April, Mai challenged us proposing us the fideuà, a Spanish dish (Catalan, to be precise, because I learned that Castilian and Catalan aren’t the same thing), a sea dish, a complex dish, but simple at the same time, because it was born on a fishing vessel, so you’ll need few ingredients and tools (believe me, cooking on a boat is not easy at all).
In addition, this dish helped me to recall a very far past (even if it was only 2009) and a trip to Barcelona in the middle of winter, and in that moment I didn’t give to that city the possibility to amaze me, to capture me with its eccentricity, his sinuous shapes , its pulsating life. It was such a different period of my life, in which the beauty of the eccentricity, of the peculiarity had a lesser power on me, a period in which I wasn’t ready to see the essence of Barcelona. Therefore, I believe I have an offset memory of this city: in my mind I see it as a city that has the color of the sand, where nothing seemed to me finished or definitive (but, while now this appears to me as a sign of hope and constant evolution, once it seemed to me as a simple lack of something). I can’t see its colors in my head, I can’t smell it or taste it, and remember it as a cold city (and it was cold, indeed, at least its weather conditions) and so far from Barcelona seen through the eyes of Pepe Carvalho, who describes it as a hot, pulsating city.
It’s amazing how moods or stages in life can change so much our own perception, so that an entire city can change with it. And I am a sea lover, so I usually love seaside town no matter what: even in the most banal or awful seaside town I can find something to love. However, I never felt anything for Barcelona (and -how strange?!-some time ago I lost all the pictures I took there and that were stored in my laptop), every memory is blurry, fuzzy, muffled.
But now I have something to start with, before I come back to Barcelona, I hope with my eyes changed: I have this seafood dish, a dish that I tried to transform, but without transfiguration, adding some artichokes (also available in a 1915 vessel that docks in a Spanish harbour – oh, yes, Spain produces artichokes) and using almost exclusively black squid (but also some prawns) with their ink black (my mom’s idea, I recognize that).
A sort of black and white picture of the original fideuà, something like my black and white picture of Barcelona. Who knows, maybe sooner or later I’ll go and add the necessary colors.
|Fideuà with ink black, squid, prawns and artichokes||
- FOR FIDEUÀ
- extra-virgin olive oil
- 350 g of “fideus” (you can do it by breaking spaghetti, ⅔ cm)
- 10 prawns
- 4 artichokes
- 1 kg of black squid
- 2 cloves of garlic
- ink black
- salt (if necessary)
- broth (for me made with my home-made vegetable stock cube plus waste of prawns)
- FOR THE ARTICHOKES SAUCE
- 3 artichokes
- FOR DRIED TOMATO SAUCE
- sun-dried tomatoes
- extra virgin olive oil
- chili pepper
- Prepare the broth: I brought to a boil a pot of water with two tablespoons of home-made vegetable stock cube together with waste of prawns and I let simmer for half an hour.
- In the “paelliera” (aka paella pot, or a large and shallow frying pan) heat a drizzle of oil, add the fideus and toast them as evenly as possible: they have to become brown, but be careful not to burn them. Set aside.
- Add some oil to your paelliera and cook the prawns (I left 4 of them with their shell, and I shelled the other 6); season with salt just at the end and if necessary (I didn’t add any). Set aside. It’s better keeping a container, preferably with a lid, at hand, to keep warm the fish.
- Add some oil and cook 2 artichokes, previously washed, cleaned from their “beards” and cut into thin slices.
- Add some oil and cook the squid, cleaned and cut into small pieces (set aside the bags with ink black). Cook for 20 minutes (keep in mind that squid needs more or less half an hour to become tender, if they are thicker).
- Wash and peel the tomatoes (if you blanch them in boiling water for a few minutes is a lot easier to do it; but you can also use a potato peeler). Cut them in very small pieces. Peel the garlic cloves, cut them into thin slices (I left the cloves whole) and sauté them; after a few seconds add the tomatoes and pour over some fish stock. When the sauce will change its color and will thicken, pour some more broth, just barely enough to cover the pasta when you’re going to add it.
- When the broth begins to simmer, toss the pasta in, arranging it evenly across the pan. Check the cooking time of your brand of pasta: mine was 10 minutes, so I immediately added the squid (to finish cooking) and their ink black; then, after 4 minutes, I added the shelled prawns (I used those in their shells to garnish) and the artichokes, then I finished cooking.
- Meanwhile I fried another artichoke (washed, clean and cut into thin slices) to garnish.
- When your fideuà is ready, taste to see if you need to add some salt (I didn’t add any), then plate it and use prawns and fried artichokes to garnish.
- Fideuà should always be served with a sauce, and I chose to make two of them: one with artichokes (leitmotiv), one with sun-dried tomatoes. I made the first by lightly frying the artichokes in butter, adding some salt, and then blending all with an hand mixer, adding some milk. I made the second sauce by blending the sun dried tomatoes (previously washed and dried) with extra-virgin olive oil, oregano and chili pepper. And trust me, you can choose other sauces, but the accompanying sauce is absolutely necessary.