THE SPANISH DO EAT PASTA — A LITTLE-KNOWN FACT, BUT TRUE NONETHELESS. INDEED THE SPANISH EAT VERY GOOD PASTA DISHES, WHICH GENERALLY FEATURE SHORT LENGTHS OF PASTA CALLED FIDEOS AND WHICH ARE USUALLY USED IN A SOUP, STEW, OR A PASTA DISH COOKED LIKE A PAELLA. THE SPANISH ALSO EAT SOME APPALLING PASTA DISHES — I KNOW BECAUSE I HAVE COOKED THEM! WHEN I WAS WORKING IN BIESCA ONE SUMMER THERE WERE A FEW ITALIAN PASTA DISHES ON THE MENU, AND I SENT THEM OUT FOR STAFF MEALS DONE AL DENTE. I WAS TOLD NEVER TO UNDERCOOK PASTA AGAIN AND TO ENSURE THE PASTA WAS ALWAYS NICE AND SOFT. SO DON’T ORDER ITALIAN PASTA IN SPAIN; ORDER INSTEAD THE FIDEOS. THIS GALICIAN VERSION HAS A BASE OF WELL-COOKED CAPSICUM (PEPPER) TO WHICH FISH STOCK IS ADDED. THE PASTA SOAKS UP THE RICH FLAVOUR OF THE FISH WITH WHICH IT IS COOKED AND ALSO HAS A NICE LITTLE HIT OF CHILLI.
Heat the olive oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over high heat until very hot. Add the onion and sauté for 2–3 minutes, or until it begins to brown. Stir in a pinch of salt and reduce the heat to medium. Add the saffron and bay leaves and sauté for 5 minutes, then add the garlic and cook for another 5 minutes.
Add all the capsicum and sauté for 10 minutes, then add the tomatoes and cook for another 20 minutes, or until reduced and thickened.
Increase the heat to high, stir in the wine and simmer for 2–3 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium, then stir in the fideos, stock and sea salt and bring to a simmer. Add the mackerel fillets and return to a simmer again.
Add the clams, then cover and cook for 10-12 minutes, or until the pasta is al dente. Serve immediately.
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