Catalan angel-hair pasta with seafood

Catalan angel-hair pasta with seafood

The Sunday Night Book
Patricia Niven

This is based on the Catalan dish called fideua, which I finally got around to making about six months ago, having been fascinated by it for years. Essentially it’s along the lines of paella, but made with thin spaghetti-like pasta, and it was definitely worth the wait. The prawns you’re after for this are the ones still in their shells that you get in a pint glass at proper pubs and by the sea. Try to buy them from a fishmonger, then you can pick up the mussels, haddock and some extra bones for the stock at the same time – the extra flavour from the fish bones will make all the difference to the finished dish. A good aioli goes nicely with fideua, but isn’t obligatory, and all it really needs is a simple green salad.


Quantity Ingredient
600g haddock on the bone, plus a few extra bones if possible
100g smoked haddock
500g angel-hair pasta
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
pinch saffron strands, soaked in 100ml warm water
500g mussels, scrubbed and debearded
1/2 lemon, zest finely grated and juiced
1 garlic clove, finely grated
generous handful flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
sea salt
black pepper

For the stock

Quantity Ingredient
2 tablespoons light olive oil
2 red onions, roughly chopped
200g shell-on north atlantic prawns
4 garlic cloves, lightly squashed with the back of a knife
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 bay leaf
few sprigs of thyme
5 black peppercorns
1/2 orange, zest peeled off in strips and juiced
150ml white wine
150ml tomato juice
1 litre water


  1. Take the haddock off the bone and save that for the stock, then cut both the fresh and smoked fish into bite-sized chunks and set aside.
  2. For the stock, heat the light olive oil in a stockpot or large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onions and cook until golden brown, then add any fish bones and the prawns.
  3. Let these cook for a minute or so before adding the garlic, cayenne, paprika, fennel seeds, peppercorns, bay leaf, thyme and orange zest. Stir for a moment until aromatic, then add the orange juice, white wine, tomato juice and water. Bring to the boil, then turn down the heat and leave to simmer for 30 minutes. Pour the stock through a fine sieve into a jug, pressing down with the back of a spoon or ladle to get all the oils and flavours out.
  4. When you’re ready to make the fiduea, heat a paella pan, or heavy-based frying pan over high heat and add 2 tablespoons of the extra virgin olive oil. Break the angel-hair pasta into shorter lengths and add to the pan. Cook, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes or until the pasta has taken on some colour. Now add 600 ml of the warm stock and bring to a simmer, using a wooden spoon to make sure all the pasta is immersed in the stock. Let it cook for a few minutes, then add the saffron and its soaking water. Give everything a good stir then pour in enough stock to cover the pasta by about 2 cm. Simmer for another 7 minutes, adding more stock if it starts to look too dry. Add the mussels, making sure they are well immersed, and adding a little more stock if necessary. Now leave the whole lot to bubble away until the mussels open.
  5. While that is happening, heat the remaining tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil in a frying pan or large saucepan. Season the fish with salt and pepper and fry until it is just cooked, for about 5 minutes, depending on the size of the chunks. Squeeze in the lemon juice and scatter over the lemon zest, garlic and parsley, then gently toss everything together.
  6. When the fiduea is ready, the pasta should be cooked and there should be a bit of stocky residue in the pan. Check the seasoning, then remove from the heat and leave to sit for a minute or two before serving. Spoon out the fideua and top with some fish.
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