Use Your Noodle | Ten-chef Fideua Faceoff this Saturday in Sanlitun

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Fideua is basically noodle paella from Valencia. Replace rice with short thin noodles, add a glass of local white wine, and sit back and enjoy.

I attended a cooking class in Velvet today where a team made a couple of rice dishes–officially known as Arroz a Banda and Caldereta de Bogavante–and a fideua de Gandia, ahead of a big chef contest this Saturday.

For the fideua, the chefs pan-fried prawns and scampi in olive oil, then removed the seafood and used the liquid for caramelizing diced onions. Then in went a steady stream of ingredients such as monkfish, sweet paprika, garlic and pureed tomatoes. With two more key items added–fish stock at a 4.5-to-1 ratio to the noodles–things were really cooking.

Alejandro Sanchez of Spanish restaurant Niajo, a few floors above Velvet, provided commentary for me, including at the critical moment when the rice on the bottom of one of the rice dishes was browning. “Timing is everything”, he said. He also said Niajo gets fresh lobster flown in Mondays and Thursdays. And serves fideua for brunch on Saturdays and Sundays.

How did the dishes taste? Rich and salty, though not overly so, with the fideua going down nicely with a chilled glass of Valencia wine. (The chef also noted that salty food helps you drink more.)


Those seeking a fideua fix can check out the ten-chef contest this Saturday. The listed participants are Rob Cunningham from Feast, Alejandro Sanchez from Niajo, Alberto Becerril from Velvet, Jarrod Robert Verbiak from Bistrot B, Fernando Martinez from Migas, Camila Betin from Factory by Salt, Kin Hong from Taco Bar, Daniel Garner from Nobu, Jun Trinh from 4 Corners, and Kevin Yang from SHIN.

Says the press release: “They will be presented with the same ingredients, but must bring their own fish stock, and are welcome to bring a few special seasonings or garnishes. The judges, who have flown in all the way from Gandía just for the occasion, will be put to a blind taste test, and then proceed to voting. Judges will base their votes on the most traditional, authentic and local fideuà that stays true to the Gandía roots. The winning chef will be presented with a plane ticket to Gandía to compete in the 42nd International Fideuà de Gandía Competition 2016, accommodation included.”

It also says fideuà and Valencia wine will be on sale, with master Jaume Fuster cooking a massive container of this noodle-based dish in Nali Patio. The contest is from noon to 3 PM.

Thanks to María Domínguez Rodríguez of Migas for today’s invite.


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