Thursday 1 August 2013

Mexican-Style Noodles (Fideos Secos)

From Truly Mexican, Roberto Santibañez, John Wiley & Sons, 2011.
I had recently used part of a can of tomatillos and wanted to use up the remainder so decided to make these Mexican noodles. It looked like an interesting dish with four different kinds of dried chillies.

The first stage was to make the sauce. I turned on the oven grill and placed two arbol chillies in to roast while I prepared the tomatoes and tomatillos (interesting plurals there: tomatoes adds ‘es’ while tomatillos makes do with just ‘s’). The chillies needed watching as they can burn quickly. When they had changed colour and added a few bits of burn tp them they were taken out. The tomatoes were now added. They had been cored and given a small cross on the base. They went under the grill top-side up. The tomatillos went in as they were. When the tomatillos had browned somewhat they were taken out. The tomatoes were left until they had blackened and the skins had split.

While the tomatoes were roasting 4 guajillo chillies and 2 ancho chillies were split open, seeded and placed in a bowl of water to soak.

It was now time to blend all of the ingredients to make the sauce. The roasted arbols, the soaked guajillos and anchos went into the blender with the tomatoes and tomatillos. With them went 5 garlic cloves, a chopped white onion, a small piece of cinnamon stick, a little over a teaspoon of cumin seeds, a teaspoon dried Mexican oregano, 2 teaspoons salt and ½ teaspoon sugar. A cup of stock was added and the mixture was churned until smooth. It then went through a sieve to remove any small pieces. The sauce was ready.

Noodles after they have been shallow fried.
For the noodles I had purchased spaghettini. A large saucepan was placed on the heat with about ¼ cup vegetable oil. Two pasillla chillies were added and sautéed until they had puffed up and become crisp. They were removed. The spaghettini was broken into halves and added a small amount at a time to the heated oil. It was cooked until it changed colour. Once done it went into a large bowl with kitchen paper to drain excess oil.
Now I made a tomatillo salsa to go with the noodles. In a blender I placed 5 tomatillos, 2 chopped red chillies, about 2 tablespoons of chopped white onion, a goodly amount of chopped coriander, a garlic clove and some salt. These were all churned until reasonably smooth. The salsa was made. I had a taste and it was great.

Fried noodles, fresh herb bouquet garni, tomatillo salsa, crisped pasillo chillies,  and sauce ready for the final stage.
It was now time to cook the noodles. In the saucepan in which the noodles were cooked there was a few tablespoons of oil left so the sauce was poured into this and cooked for a few minutes more. This helped alleviate the rather harsh taste of the raw garlic. Now 4 cups stock were added together with the noodles. They were stirred to fully mix and then brought to the boil and turned to a simmer to cook. A bouquet garni was made of 4 stems coriander, 2 stems fresh mint and 2 stems parsley. This was added to the mixture. It took about 10 minutes for the noodles to be cooked. The bouquet garni was removed and the noodles were served in bowls.

The noodles were now dressed with crumbled feta cheese, some crème fraîche softened with a little water so that is was a pouring consistency, slices of avocado, the tomatillo salsa, some of the crisped pasillo chillies crumbled and chopped coriander.
Though a bit of work to put this all together it was worth the effort. There was a wonderful depth of flavour to the sauce and a warmth that was totally satisfying—not hot but a cheery warming heat. And then there were all the additional tastes from the dressings: creamy cheese, smoky dried chilly, the bite of the salsa.
Taste: ✔✔✔✔✔
Ease of cooking: ✔✔

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