I don’t think I’ve ever been messaged more on social media than when I posted a picture of this fideo in my Instagram stories. The response took me by surprise—I mean, this is true, homestyle Mexican cuisine. Nothing fancy. And that’s why it’s so good.
Fideo is Mexico’s version of angel hair pasta, just cut into 1-inch pieces. When we made fideo seco back home, we toasted the pasta and then cooked it in a tomatoey broth, sometimes with vegetables and maybe shredded chicken. In this version, I start with a quick tomato sauce that I borrowed from my fiancé, Philip (it’s the same one we use for pasta and pizza) and added some chipotles to give it a kick.
Now, a few secrets that will guarantee that when you make this fideo seco, you’re able to receive all the magic. The key is to blend the sauce until it’s really smooth, and add enough liquid so the sauce is thin enough to be absorbed by the pasta. Think of this like risotto, where you have to stir while liquid is absorbed by the pasta. Stirring is essential to keep the pasta from sticking to the pan and to make sure the sauce gets distributed and absorbed. This is one of those things learned by watching the abuelas in the cocina; it’s not hard, but you have to pay attention. It’s a humble meal that will only work if you watch it closely while making it.
And now, the big finish—avocado slices, a drizzle of tart crema Mexicana, fresh cilantro leaves, crumbled queso fresco … maybe a squeeze of lime juice, and you’re in heaven, which for me is right back home in Tijuana. If you’re carb-watching, take a break—this is worth every bite. In fact, the only way this could possibly get any better is by adding more carbs. Like reheating it the next day and making fideo tacos (with corn tortillas, please) or tortas, with the same toppings. Maybe some fresh salsa. Add a Mexican Coca-Cola, and you’re all set. Enjoy!
- 1/3 cup plus 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 small shallot, coarsely chopped (about 1/4 cup)
- 2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped (about 1 tablespoon)
- 2 cups chopped tomato
- 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 3 fresh basil leaves
- 1 1/2 cups chicken stock, divided
- 1 tablespoon adobo sauce from can
- 7 ounces uncooked medium fideo pasta (such as El Mexicano)
- Crema, sliced avocado, queso fresco, and fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish
How to Make It
Heat 1/3 cup oil in a medium saucepan over medium. Add shallot and garlic; cook, stirring often, until softened, about 4 minutes. Stir in chopped and canned tomatoes. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper. Stir in basil, and bring to a vigorous simmer over medium-high. Reduce heat to low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until mixture is the texture of marmalade, about 25 minutes.
Transfer tomato mixture to a blender. Add 1/2 cup chicken stock and adobo sauce. Secure lid on blender, and remove center piece to allow steam to escape. Place a clean towel over opening. Process until smooth, about 15 seconds. Season with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Set aside 1 1/2 cups tomato sauce; reserve remaining tomato sauce for another use.
Heat remaining 3 tablespoons oil in a deep 11-inch skillet over medium-high until hot. Add fideo; cook, stirring often, until toasted and darkened, about 4 minutes. Stir in reserved tomato sauce and remaining 1 cup chicken stock. Return to a simmer over medium-high. Reduce heat to low, and gently simmer, giving skillet a quarter turn every 2 minutes and repositioning skillet over burner, until liquid is absorbed and rice is al dente, about 15 minutes, stirring once halfway through and gently pressing noodles into an even layer. (Repositioning the skillet ensures you’ll have an evenly browned and crispy crust on bottom of pan and prevents burning. If needed, gently dig into fideo to check bottom of pan).
Remove from heat, cover, and let steam until noodles are tender, about 5 minutes. Garnish with a drizzle of crema, avocado, queso fresco, and cilantro.