Fideuà Negra: Shrimp, Clams, Cuttlefish, and Fideo Noodles with Squid Ink

August 8, 2018 Updated: August 8, 2018    

Fideuà Negra: Shrimp, Clams, Cuttlefish, and Fideo Noodles with Squid Ink

This squid ink and toasted noodle paella is one of our all-time favorites. Try it and you’ll understand why.

Once on the table you’ll want to grab a spoon, crack through the crispy top, and mix the allioli evenly throughout the inky paella until it’s as creamy as a risotto. Scrape up the crunchy base, getting plenty of the gooey center’s sweet seafood and tender noodles.

It’s easy to recreate this addictive dish at home. If you already have stock, sofrito, and picada, it comes together fast. You’ll know it’s ready when the short, thin noodles on top curl and rise like they’re dancing.

Serves 4
Prep 30 minutes
Total 45 minutes

  • 2 cups fideo #1 noodles
  • 3 cups Lobster Stock
  • 2 tablespoons squid ink
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, as needed for frying and drizzling
  • 12 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 12 manila clams, cleaned well
  • 6 ounces cuttlefish, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup Sofrito
  • 3 tablespoons Picada
  • Flat-leaf parsley leaves, for serving
  • Allioli, for serving
  • Kosher salt

Position a rack in the center of the oven. Preheat to 400°F.

Spread the noodles on a half sheet pan. Bake on the center rack, stirring once or twice, until golden brown, about 5–6 minutes. Reserve.

Meanwhile, mix the stock and squid ink in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, then adjust the heat to maintain a steady simmer.

While the stock comes to a simmer, coat a 16–18-inch paella pan with oil. Heat over high heat until the oil is almost smoking. Season the shrimp with salt and add in a single layer. Cook only until lightly browned, about 30 seconds per side. Quickly and immediately transfer to a plate. You just want to leave some shrimp flavor in the pan; you don’t want to risk overcooking the shrimp.

Turn heat to medium-high; coat the pan with oil again, add the clams, and season them with salt. Cook, shaking the pan occasionally, until they start to gape open a little (discard any that fail to open), about 2 minutes. Immediately transfer to a bowl.

Coat the pan with oil again. Season the cuttlefish with salt and add to the hot oil in a single layer. Cook, turning occasionally, until golden, about 5 minutes. You want the cuttlefish to caramelize a bit in the pan; add more oil if any pieces stick. Add the sofrito and picada and stir until well mixed. Add the toasted noodles and stir until well combined. Add the simmering stock-squid ink mixture. It should boil immediately. Season to taste with salt.

Boil the mixture over high heat for 5 minutes, then lower the heat to simmer for 5 minutes more.

Scatter the shrimp and clams and all their reserved juices on top of the cuttlefish and noodles. Cook over a low heat until the mixture is dry, about 5 minutes.

Turn the heat to high. Cook until you can hear the noodles crackling and creating the soccarat crust on the bottom, about 30 seconds. Top with parsley, drizzle with olive oil, and serve immediately with allioli.

Chef’s tip: Squid ink is available in specialty stores and seafood markets.

Lobster Stock

Lobster stock enriches seafood dishes with an incomparable depth. To make it, you need to follow a few simple steps. First, start with a huge pot. Next, take your time caramelizing the lobster heads to draw out their deep-sea flavor. Finally, simmer low and slow to fully infuse the stock with all the aromatics.

Makes about 10 cups
Prep 1 hour
Total 2 hours

  • 9 raw lobster heads (2 pounds)
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup cooking brandy
  • 1 large leek, white and pale green parts only, cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 1 carrot, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1/2 onion, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
  • 1 head garlic, cut in half through its “equator”
  • 1 celery stalk, cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 2 tablespoons sweet pimentón (smoked paprika)
  • 3 tomatoes, cored and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine

Pull the top shells of the lobster heads off the bottoms. Cut the top shells in quarters and cut the bottoms in half lengthwise, then crosswise into thirds.

Heat 5 tablespoons oil in a large stockpot over high heat until smoking hot. Add the lobster pieces, in a single layer if possible. Cook, turning the pieces occasionally, until well caramelized, about 15 minutes. The shells should be bright red and the meat dark brown.

Add the brandy. If you’re comfortable flambéing, light the alcohol very carefully with a long match. Otherwise, let the brandy boil until it has almost completely evaporated. Transfer the lobster pieces and all the pan juices to a large bowl.

Add the remaining 3 tablespoons oil to the same stockpot and heat over medium-high heat. Add the leek, carrot, onion, garlic, and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, until well caramelized and browned, about 15 minutes.

Add the pimentón and stir well, then immediately add the tomatoes to prevent the pimentón from burning. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes break down, about 3 minutes. Add the wine, bring to a boil, then simmer until reduced by half, about 1 minute. Add 4 quarts cold water and return the lobster and all its juices to the pot.

Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to maintain a steady simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from the heat, cover, and let stand for 1 hour to steep.

Strain through a fine-mesh sieve, pressing on all the solids to extract as much liquid as possible. The stock can be refrigerated for up to 1 week or frozen for up to 6 months.

Chef’s tip: You can ask for lobster heads at your local market’s seafood counter.
If you can’t find them, use 2 pounds of large shell-on shrimp with heads instead.

Sofrito

This saucy blend of onion, tomatoes, and garlic is the foundation of most Catalonian dishes. The very best cooks know that the longer the blend simmers, the richer it tastes. Some even leave it on the stove for a full day. We make a big batch and refrigerate or freeze the mixture in smaller ready-to-use portions, so that we can add this deep flavor to a dish in an instant.

Makes about 1 cup
Prep 30 minutes
Total 3 1/2 hours

  • 1 pound ripe tomatoes, cut in 1-inch chunks
  • 1 (8-ounce) white Spanish onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and trimmed
  • 1/2 cup blended canola-olive oil

Put the tomatoes, onion, and garlic, in that order, into a blender or food processor. Pulse until well mixed, then purée until almost smooth but with a few small chunks remaining. Transfer to a large saucepan with the oil and stir well.

Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thick and sweet, about 3 hours.

Allioli

In Catalan, allioli translates to “garlic and oil” and those are the only two ingredients in the original. It’s one of the region’s absolute oldest and essential sauces. Traditionally, it’s made by smashing garlic in a mortar while drizzling in oil. The two emulsify to create a sauce as creamy as mayonnaise. Nailing that skill is hard, to say the least. The old-school technique may be a dying art, but the sauce itself lives on, often with a mayonnaise formula. We use a whole egg in ours to make the emulsification process easy and foolproof. It also results in an airier spread that’s still luscious and garlicky.

Makes 1 1/2 cups
Prep 15 minutes
Total 15 minutes

  • 1 large garlic clove, peeled and trimmed
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 teaspoon white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 cup blended canola-olive oil
  • Kosher salt

Process the garlic, egg, vinegar, and mustard in a blender or food processor until smooth, scraping the bowl occasionally. With the machine running, add the oil in a very slow, steady stream. Process until emulsified, scraping the bowl occasionally. Season to taste with salt.

Picada

Mortar-and-pestle sauces are the backbone of Catalan cuisine. This pounded herb-bread paste seasons stews, paellas, and fideuas with a hit of freshness while thickening cooking liquids. Like so many Spanish staples, picada was created during tough times as an inexpensive flavor base that could enrich a wide variety of humble dishes. It still excels in doing the same now.

We make our picada a little luxurious with the addition of aromatic saffron. To streamline the step of toasting the saffron, we sprinkle it over the hot fried bread. The saffron heats up over the bread and releases its intoxicating aroma beautifully that way.

Makes about 1/3 cup
Prep 20 minutes
Total 20 minutes, plus overnight

  • 1 dried ñora pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and trimmed
  • 1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • Blended canola-olive oil, for frying
  • 2 (3/4-inch-thick) slices baguette
  • A good pinch of saffron threads
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt

Cover the ñora pepper with very hot (almost boiling) water in a bowl. Let stand at room temperature overnight.

Drain the pepper and discard the stem and seeds. Use a spoon to scrape out the flesh. Reserve the flesh and discard the skin.

Put the garlic and a large pinch of salt in a mortar or food processor. Pound with a pestle or pulse the machine until the garlic becomes a paste. Add the parsley and pepper flesh and pound or pulse until the leaves are very finely ground.

Fill a small skillet with the canola-olive oil to a depth of ½ inch. Heat over medium-high heat until the oil is hot and shimmering. Add the baguette slices and cook, turning once, until golden brown and crisp on both sides. Transfer to the mortar or processor and immediately sprinkle the saffron on top. Pound or pulse until the mixture is smooth. Add the olive oil and stir with the pestle or pulse in the machine until fully incorporated.

From “Boqueria: A Cookbook, From Barcelona to New York” by Marc Vidal & Yann de Rochefort with Zack Bezunartea. Used by permission of Bloomsbury/Absolute Press.