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Tasting Notes

In this Spanish-inspired recipe, crunchy, crusty toasted and baked fideos meet creamy, aïoli.

The fideos absorb the deep flavors of the seafood broth, which get extra-concentrated as the fideos bake in the oven. The saffron in the aïoli has a floral spice, but also imparts the aroma of springtime and fresh earth. It complements the saline sweetness of the mussels, which give the aïoli body. Garlic and mustard add additional spice, while lemon juice brings acidity and an egg yoke gives the aïoli richness.

Tips & Techniques

  1. The key to flavor development. We start the fideos similar to how we would start risotto – toasting the noodles and adding a little broth at a time.
  2. A crispy crust. If it looks like the top of your fideos is starting to brown before the outer and bottom edges have formed a crust, gently stir the top noodles in without scraping the sides. This will keep the top from burning – and you’ll still get a great crust.
  3. A creamy aïoli. The protein in the mussel meat not only helps to bind the aïoli – it also gives it flavor. To keep your aïoli from breaking or separating, blend it slowly, streaming in the oil a little at a time.

Toolbox

These tools are the ones we find especially helpful when making this dish.

  1. Food processor or blender – For perfectly smooth aïoli, use a food processor to quickly blend the garlic, mustard, egg yolk, lemon juice and saffron to emulsify the oil into the mixture.

The list below includes all the equipment you’ll want to make this dish.

Small pot

Small bowl

Food processor or blender

Rubber spatula

Bowl

Shallow le creuset

Rubber spatula


Ingredients

For fideos:

  • 6 ounces fideos
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium onion, ¼ inch dice
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups shrimp broth

 

For garlic oil: 

  • 1 head garlic, cloves peeled
  • 2 ½ cups canola oil or olive oil (not extra virgin)

 

For saffron aïoli:

  • Oil-simmered garlic cloves (from previous recipe)
  • 2 tablespoons hot water
  • ½ teaspoon saffron
  • 1 teaspoons Dijon
  • 1 egg yolk
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Cooked mussel meat from 1/2 pound mussels
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup garlic oil (from previous recipe)
  • 1/2 cup grapeseed oil

 

Serves: 4

Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Active Time: 1 hour

Method

For fideos:

  1. Heat oven to 375°F.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan. Add fideos and stir to coat in oil. Toast about 2-3 minutes, or until the pasta is golden brown.
  3. Add onion and garlic, season with salt and pepper and continue to cook until onion and garlic has softened, about 3 more minutes. Add broth at about 1/3 at a time and cook until the broth is absorbed. Add another cup of broth and continue to cook on medium.
  4. Add 1 cup of the broth over low heat and continue stirring to separate pasta and avoid sticking. When that broth is absorbed, add another cup of broth. Cook until the broth is absorbed and the pasta is cooked. If you need to add additional broth to finish cooking the pasta, do so now.
  5. Adjust the seasoning of the pasta and place the pot, uncovered in the oven. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until the top has colored slightly and a crust has formed.

For garlic oil: 

  1. Place the garlic cloves in a small pot with the oil. Bring to a simmer and simmer gently for 15 to 20 minutes or until the garlic cloves are tender and light golden brown.
  2. Let cool completely and hold in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to use. The garlic and oil will last 1-2 weeks.

For saffron aïoli:

  1. Bloom the saffron in a small bowl with 2 tablespoons of hot water. Let cool.
  2. Place garlic, Dijon, egg yolk, lemon juice and saffron water in the food processor. Quickly purée and then add the mussel meat. Process for 1-2 minutes until all ingredients are puréed and smooth.
  3. Slowly drizzle in garlic oil and then grapeseed oil. Let processor run another minute until the mixture is completely smooth and emulsified. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Note: stir 1/2-3/4 cup aïoli into the fideos – the rest will keep for up to 4 days.

 

Here is a great way to turn this dish into a meal

Grilled andouille sausage with fideos & saffron aïoli

Saffron aïoli and fideos are simply delicious with grilled andouille sausage.

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