Back, again, to my undying thirst for Catalonian cuisine. This dish originated from Catalan fishermen, who found a creative use for the pasta they would bring home from neighbouring Italy, a paella dish with the vermicelli cut down to little noodles.
While paella was originally a meat dish, this originated with the fishermen, and would normally contain seafood. I’ve gone for a mix, purely because of my fridge contents.
I prefer the texture of the noodles to the stodge of rice, and this cooks in next to no time too. And my apologies for my photography- after a run of decently photographed food, this proved too much for my meagre skills, and looks like a plate of stodge. Which it is. But you try finding a more delicious stodge.
Finally- I offer this in celebration of the Catalonian people hoping for independence after the fantastic election result last weekend.
- Olive oil
- 4 dried vermicelli nests (c. 300g)
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 1/2 tsp turmeric (or some strands of saffron if you’re wealthier than me)
- 200g (1/2 a can) chopped tomatoes
- 1 litre chicken stock
- 2 sprigs thyme
- 100 -200g cooked mussels (plus a couple in their shells for presentation)
- 100-200g cooked chicken
- A handful of suitable veg. Peas, diced red peppers, etc.
- Aioli (garlic mayonnaise, basically)
Break up the vermicelli into a bowl by squeezing the nests in your fist. It’s very satisfying after a stressful day! Alternatively, you can buy the c. 1 inch strands from bigger upmarket supermarkets or a good Mediterranean deli, but squishing vermicelli is deeply satisfying.
Finely chop the garlic, and gently fry this until pale gold over a low heat, in a large saucepan or paella dish.then add the turmeric and the noodles, stir well until the turmeric has coloured it well, for about a minute.
Add the tomatoes and thyme, and a good teaspoon of salt, and cook for another 5 minutes before adding the stock and bringing this to a light, rolling boil.
Reduce to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. After this, add the chicken, mussels and veg, and cook for another 10 minutes, or until almost all the liquid has been absorbed. If there is too little liquid, add a little water, too much, and just boil harder and stir constantly.
Remove from the heat and cover for about ten minutes, to let the last of the juices to soak in.
Put a hearty portion on a plate, add a generous dollop of aioli and eat.