Fideuada with Allioli and Salmon

The next recipe is based on a classic dish of Catalunya, fideuada, in which pasta is cooked in broth and served with allioli. The method, however, is more like that for a risotto, and sounds very bizarre. It is an extremely unusual and delicious dish, and I highly recommend it. In Catalunya it is more usually served with shellfish, but I have discovered that it and salmon go surprisingly well together. The crudites are to be dipped in the mayonnaise and eaten in the fingers, adding to the communality of the pot.

I am aware that authentic Catalan allioli requires nothing more than garlic, crushed in sea salt in a mortar, to which is added, drop by drop, olive oil, until the two cohere into an unctuous, opaque, golden-green mass. Impressive if you get it right, frustrating if the mixture splits. I suggest a compromise of good-quality mayonnaise, preferably home-made, into which you stir plenty of crushed garlic.

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Ingredients

  • 1 kg (2lbs) salmon fillet, scaled
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 500 g (1 lb) spaghettini or other thin dried pasta, broken into short pieces
  • fish or shellfish stock – for quantity, see recipe
  • homemade garlic mayonnaise
  • raw fennel, carrots, small tomatoes, cucumber batons, spring onions, celery

Method

Season the fish, cut into 8 even pieces and put to one side while you cook the pasta. Heat the oil in a large saucepan or sauté pan and in it gently fry the pasta until pale golden brown, taking care not to burn it, which is easily done. Have the stock simmering in another pan and add a ladle or so to the pasta. When it has almost been absorbed, add more, and so on until the pasta is tender. As with risotto, it is difficult to say exactly how much liquid you will need, as this depends on the thickness of the pasta, how dry it is, how humid the atmosphere is, and so on. But generally, you should allow one and a half times liquid to solid, and perhaps up to twice the amount. The finished dish should be very definitely moist, but not swimming in liquid; the liquid is inside the pasta, as it were.

While this is cooking, get griddle or grill very hot, and cook the salmon just before you are ready to serve. Put the pasta in a bowl, the salmon on a platter with the crudites, and the garlic mayonnaise in another bowl.

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