Living in the US, the best way to discover Latin American cuisine is by going to Mexican restaurants, which are not only very popular here but also often very good and inexpensive. I like sometimes to have in my repertoire one or two original dishes that I can cook whenever I crave for such a taste.
In the Mexican restaurants I went to, I have never seen or maybe just never noticed, any dish based on fideos--Spanish and Mexican cuisine noodles. Since I am a pasta person, they always intrigued me when I saw them at my food store. Finally, not so long ago, I bought them for the first time. When I got home I started looking for the recipes. The most popular, repeated several times with few modifications, was a dish with fideos, tomatoes, and shredded pork. But I am not so much into the Latin cuisine reds. Rather, I am attracted to its greens--tomatillos, pablano pepper, avocado, limes, cilantro, or jalapeno chili. For that reason, I decided to make a green sauce for fideos, remembering it vaguely from a recipe for enchiladas that I cooked once a long time ago.
I prepared a sauce from roasted pablano peppers, tomatillos, and cilantro, to which I added ground pork. I baked the whole dish, topped with sour cream and cheese, in an oven. All the flavors-- aromatic pablanos, cilantro, and tangy tomatillos blended nicely with the mild noodles and the creamy cheese topping. Although the dish may seem quite complicated, in reality, it is rather simple to make and very rich and rewarding in the end. I added meat to the sauce but I suppose that even without this addition this dish would be great thanks to the variety of herbs and vegetables used in it and it would also be very filling especially with the cream and cheese sauce.
Fideos with Pablano Green Sauce
1 bag (12 oz) fideo noodles,
1 lb ground pork or chicken,
5 garlic cloves,
1 large (26 oz) can tomatillos,
1 bunch fresh coriander, chopped,
3 pablano peppers,
1 jalapeno chili (optional, if you like it spicy)
1 tsp ground cumin,
1 tsp salt,
1 cup sour cream,
2 cups Mexican cheese blend,
4 tbsp vegetable oil for frying.
1. Put the whole pablanos under the hot broil and grill them until their skin becomes black. Remove from the oven and put them in a paper bag and close it. Let them stay in the bag for 20-30 minutes. After that time peel them, remove the seeds, and cut into strips.
2. Heat two tbsp of oil and fry fideos until slightly brown. Remove from the pan.
3. In the same frying pan heat one tbsp of oil, when hot add pork, season with salt, and fry until meat becomes light brown. Set aside.
4. Put tomatillos, garlic, cumin, coriander, and jalapegnos in a blender and have it work until all the ingredients are finely chopped.
5. Heat the remaining 2 tbsp of oil in a large casserole and add the tomatillo mixture to it. Simmer for about 10 minutes, until it becomes thicker.
6. Transfer cooked meat and the pablanos to the tomatillo sauce, add fideos, and mix all the ingredients.
7. Preheat oven to 400 F.
8. Transfer the whole fideos mixture to the large oven proof dish. Spread cream on top and sprinkle with cheese. Cover with the aluminum foil and bake for 30-35 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 5 minutes.