Fideuá is a another typical if you visit Valencia, very similar to paella, as most ingredients are common to both, but fideua substitutes rice with pasta. However fideua is more similar to paella marina rather than the typical Valencian one, as it is made with seafood instead of meat.
Like paella, fideua is prepared in a paella (a large and frying pan like recipient). These dishes were created especially for the production of paella like dishes as it cooks the rice, or in this case pasta, evenly. However if you do not have a specific paella dish then you can always just use a deep, flat-bottomed frying pan instead. If you do have a paella however, remember that it is typical to both cook and serve this dish in the pan, and then provide a spoon for your guests to serve themselves.
With regards to the history of fideua, there is a popular tale which concerns Spanish fishermen. According to the story, the dish was created in 1915 by Joan Batiste Pascual from Safor, Gandia, who was better known as Zabalo. He was a cook on board a fishing boat and often cooked typical Spanish rice dishes such as paella. However, the skipper of the boat was a rice lover and would always eat much more of the paella than his fair share, meaning that the other sailors never got their full ration of food.
So in order to stop the skipper being so greedy, Zabalo decided to change one of the paella's main ingredient: rice, and made it with pasta instead. Unfortunately for the rest of the fisherman, his plan didn't go too well. On the up side though, fideuá's fame spread in the restaurants of the region, and became one of Valencia's most characteristic dishes, and nowadays there are many contests to prove the cook's expertise with fideuá. Gandía is therefore the homeland of this dish, and as such the largest fideua cooking competition is held in the city of Safor evey year.
Fideuá is a seafood dish, among its ingredients we find monkfish, cuttlefish or squid and crustaceans such as crayfish, prawns or mantis shrimp. This dish is a true testament to the Spanish coastline which is so varied as provides the population with so much. However these ingredients tend to vary according the cook's taste. It is normally dressed with lemon and not alioli as it's relative, arroz a banda, however some people have began to use the garlic mayonnaise sauce in recent times.
Naturally, the best version of this dish is one that is home-made so if you decide to study Spanish abroad in Valencia, be sure to get a taste of fideuá or try a Spanish cooking course in Valencia.
Ingredients (four portions):