Maybe Next Year . . .

Sunday, November 8, 2009 44 comments

Pan-Fried Fideo Crab Bites

I was in a funk - a Foodbuzz Festival Funk, to be precise.

As I write this, the 1st Annual Foodbuzz Blogger Festival in San Francisco is coming to a close, the 'Golden Forks' have been handed out to the inaugural award winners and attendees are dragging swag-laden carry-on luggage through SFO airport security. After jealously reading tweets and posts, and enviously perusing Twitpics and Flickr shots of goodie bags, food tastings and marvelous meals, I wish I could've been there, too.

But regret is bitter on the tongue and I would rather taste the sweetness of its opposite - gratitude. So, I thank the bloggers who posted those tweets and photos so that I could share in their excitement. I appreciate that Foodbuzz put together the festival, giving food bloggers yet another venue to connect with each other and celebrate the shared passion for good food. And I am grateful that although I did not make it this year, it is something to eagerly anticipate in the next.

As determined as I was to attend the festival, financing a weekend trip to San Francisco was going to be difficult. Yet hope was kindled when I learned that Foodbuzz and event sponsor Bertolli Sauces were offering 'scholarships' to cover travel expenses for bloggers whose entree and appetizer ideas using the latter's products were chosen. [Congratulations to the winners: Crystal & Amir of The Duo Dishes, Mardi of Eat, Live, Travel, Write and LK of Healthy.Delicious! Click here to see their entries.]

Because of the immediate deadline for entries (just a few days, if memory serves), the Foodbuzz/Bertolli contest required neither a complete recipe nor even a photograph of a finished dish - what was requested, and would be judged, was a concept. I was immediately intrigued because it represented a challenge to muster memory, knowledge and instinct about flavors and techniques to envision a final, feasible food. In my first year of blogging, I have learned so much about cooking instinctively and this was a perfect opportunity to test that education.

I figured my chances were as good as any and came up with an appetizer that I hoped would be a winner. In the end, however, my entry was never submitted. I can offer a whole host of reasons why I didn't do it but I won't; instead, let me just offer the appetizer itself!

This dish was inspired by a creation from Chef Ilan Hall, winner of Bravo's
Top Chef, Season Two and now chef-owner of The Gorbals in Los Angeles. From his Crispy Pan-Fried Shrimp and Chorizo Fideo Cakes, I came up with a more simple version using crab meat and Bertolli's Alfredo Sauce with Aged Parmesan Cheese. Furthermore, I made it two ways - pan-fried and oven-baked - to compare the outcomes in terms of taste and texture. Although I didn't put it out there to be evaluated by my fellow bloggers in the Foodbuzz community, this recipe came out quite well and I hope that you'll enjoy it, too.

See you next year at Foodbuzz Fest II!

Fideo Crab Bites

Depending on the source, the Spanish word fideo may refer to any kind of noodle or, specifically, a very thin, short vermicelli-type pasta used in Mediterranean and Mexican cuisines. In southern Spain, it takes the place of rice in a paella dish called fideuá, whereas in Mexico, it is commonly used in soups (sopa de fideo) [sources: Wikipedia/Fideo,]. Most recipes call for the noodles to be toasted first, either in the oven or by lightly frying, to deepen its flavor. I skipped this step here but will be sure to follow it for future preparations. Despite its pasta pedigree, fideo can be found in the Spanish or Mexican section of your local grocery. 

Baked Fideo Crab Bites

To cook the recipe, I tried both pan-frying and baking: the former yielded a deep golden color and appealingly crunchy texture, perfect as finger food dipped into a savory sauce, while the latter was softer to the bite with a quiche-like quality more suitable to a plated appetizer. Same mixture, different mouthfeel - in the end, Mr. Noodle declared both to be equal favorites.

Yields approximately 2 dozen


4 oz fideo (capellini or vermicelli noodles, broken into 1" pieces, may be used)
1/4 cup Bertolli Alfredo Sauce with Aged Parmesan Cheese
2 eggs, beaten
8 oz crab meat
2 Tbsps fresh parsley, finely chopped
Oil for frying

To make:

1. Cook fideo according to package directions; rinse with cold water, drain well and set aside;
2. Combine alfredo sauce and eggs, and mix well;
3. In a separate bowl, mix cooled noodles, crabmeat and parsley, tossing gently to combine;
4. Add egg-alfredo mixture and toss gently until noodles are well-coated;
5. Cover bowl and refrigerate mixture for 30-45 minutes;

To pan-fry:
a) Pour just enough oil to cover the bottom of a sauté pan or skillet and heat;
b) Drop heaping tablespoons of chilled noodle mixture into hot oil, making sure not to crowd each spoonful;
c) Fry until golden on both sides, then remove to a plate lined with paper towels; serve immediately.

To bake:
a) Preheat oven to 375°F;
b) Grease mini-muffin pan with butter, oil or nonstick spray;
c) Spoon noodle mixture, filling each well to the top;
d) Bake for 30 minutes or until tops are golden;
e) Remove from oven and serve immediately.

This recipe is definitely still in progress: aside from toasting the fideo before boiling, other possible changes include using different seafood (salmon?) or adding cheese to the baked version so that the tops aren't quite as dry. Eventually, I'd like to try 'deconstructing' the alfredo sauce portion to make this a truly from-scratch appetizer. All suggestions, tips and advice are welcome!


  • Susan @ SGCC said...

    I was sad to miss the Foodbuzz weekend too. I jut couldn't swing another trip to SF so soon. Let's plan to meet up there next year for sure!

    Love your take on that fideos dish! I've made the original dish a few times and it is fabulous. Turning it into little bites is really inspired!

  • Trissa said...

    Sorry you didn't get to submit it - even if you think it still needs tweaking, to me, it looks absolutely delicious! I love fideos - we used to eat this all the time in Manila. I haven't had it here thanks for sharing.

  • Jenn said...

    Aww...too bad you didn't get a chance to submit the recipe. These look awesome!! I wanted to attend the FB fest, too. I do agree "Maybe next year"

  • Daily Spud said...

    You know what? I deliberately stayed away from Twitter over the weekend precisely because I knew there would be so much foodbuzz fest traffic and I didn't want to end up in a funk myself because I wasn't there.

    I'd love to swing another trip Stateside next year if I could, though, so I'll be keeping an eye out for events and opportunities for travel, not to mention opportunities which could involve the possibility of meeting your good self!

  • The Diva on a Diet said...

    If its any consolation, I'm feeling a little bitter myself that I didn't go to the Festival either. Ah well, we'll both go next year!!

    I love what you've done with this recipe and think the crab bites would be a wonderful addition to any menu. They're gorgeous, Noodle!!

  • vanillasugarblog said...

    you know I finally need to become a member of the foodbuzz. I would love to go to one of those events, just to meet everyone you know.
    anyway, sorry you missed and sorry the recipe didn't make it either. but these really do look amazing.

  • Anonymous said...

    These sound absolutely delicious! Would have been a winner entry for sure! I couldn't go to the festival either, perhaps next year.

  • foodhoe said...

    both the baked and the fried versions look delicious. one thing I can say about travel to SF, if you plan accordingly, you can find great deals on hotels and you don't really need a car... it's just about crab season, can't wait - this looks like a great recipe.

  • kat said...

    I wish you could have been here! Aunt Else's was here & had your post about them printed & on their table so you were here in spirit anyway

  • Chef E said...

    I am here for a bite! I bet attending those events are really cool! They happen here in NYC, but I find it troublesome to make that trek into the city, but maybe one day...

  • Reeni said...

    These look absolutely delicious! I'd love to pop a few in my mouth! I was envious seeing all the tweets and blog posts about it. I really want to go next year.

  • Unknown said...

    I missed the Foodbuzz boat as well
    :( Its crap being here in NY...everything is on the west coast now including project runway and conan obrien. lol...I have been saying this for a while. They should have an esst coast foodbuzz office. I love the appetizer!

  • Tangled Noodle said...

    It's always something with me! I'm in a constant state of apology so I won't stop now. Sorry for the delay in responding to all of your wonderful comments, but I promise to reply ASAP to each one!

  • Palidor said...

    Aw, that is too bad you didn't submit the crab bites, 'cause you know what? I'm sure they would have won. But you've got the right attitude - there is always next year. And in the meantime, I'm sure you'll find other food events to keep you occupied!

  • Anonymous said...

    I am so proud of you for flexing your intuitive cooking skills! I hereby bestow upon you the TTBAR Award. I have just made it up, and you are its first recipient. The acronym stands for "Take the Ball and Run." Perhaps it will serve as some measure of consolation for missing the SF Shindig. Go, TN and your intuition!

    And happy blogiversary. My 1 year mark was October 26, but I sort of forgot to commemorate it. Alas.

  • Sophia said...

    Wow!!! These look AMAZING! I hope to visit Gorbels sometime, since it isn't too far away...the only problem is the $$!! year, you HAVE to go to the Festival!!! It's AMAZING!

  • Mardi Michels said...

    I am so sad you didn't make it to Foodbuzz either. This is definitely a winning recipe and it really highlights the product. :-( There IS always next year and hopefully there might be more brand scholarships available?

    You're in Minneapolis, right? I am there for a conference in early March - maybe we can meet up???

  • OysterCulture said...

    Wow, these crab bits ook fantastic. Best of luck as an entry for next year - you have my vote. That would have been so cool if you had won a "scholarship" but I would have thought it would have been smack in the middle of your classes. Looking forward to seeing you next week already!

  • Midge said...

    Pity about the food fest; thanks to all the weird things at work of late, I've also missed out on a number of foodie events over here! :(

    Those crab cakes look crunchy-fab, though. :)

  • Tangled Noodle said...

    Sorry, sorry, sorry for the delay in replying!

    Susan - I saw your fideo dish when I was searching for info about it! I still have quite a few noodles left so I'll definitely have to try out your recipe.

    Trissa - I've had fideos at Spanish restaurants but I didn't realize that it's very familiar to Manila cuisine! I'll have to look for it when we visit next month.8-)

    Jenn - Thanks! Maybe they'll have a similar contest next year (but with a longer deadline). Hope we both make it to FB Fest II!

    Daily Spud - I did, too (although I caved in a couple of times and sneaked some peeks). My husband are still determined to visit Ireland in the near future - so many places (and friends!) to visit . . . But know that you are most welcome in Minnesota. I'll watch out, too, for events where Noodle and Spud can get together!

    Justin - The fried ones definitely had a more appealing texture but as I made them, they were a tad too oily. I'll have to work on that part!

    doggybloggy - I subscribe to the "Ignorance is bliss" doctrine! 8-)

    Angie's Recipes - Thank you! A 'nest' is a great idea - perhaps next time, I should put something in the center, like salmon or shrimp, or even sausage!

    Diva - You know I'd love to hang out with you! Perhaps there will be something in NYC . . . 8-) Thanks for your comment about these bites. I'll keep tweaking them until they're just right. Thank goodness I've got a willing taster at home!

    Dawn - You should definitely join Foodbuzz! It's a great community where you can find pretty much any food or foodie. I managed to talk myself out of submitting the recipe but hopefully, I'll have more gumption next year!

    Sarah - Thank you! I think that after all the great stories I've read about the experience, there'll be even more interest next year. I'm hoping to be one of them!

    Gastroanthropologist - Thank you so much! You've done quite a bit of traveling this year (and thank you for sharing with us!) but I hope that if you are back home when the even comes around again, that I'll make it out to finally meet you!

    Fahrenheit 350 - All of us who missed it this year should form a group to make sure we make it out next year!

    5 Star Foodie - Thank you! After seeing the three eventual winners, I'm not as confident but I'm just pleased that the concept actually turned out. This was my first attempt at coming up with something based on a single ingredient (albeit with plenty of help from Ilan Hall). 8-)

  • Tangled Noodle said...

    Foodhoe - Thanks! I actually lived in SF area (Daly City) during high school but that almost doesn't count now because I didn't know anything about its food culture as today! A great reason to plan a return . . . !

    _TS - Oh no! I hope you're alright!! I might've joked before about giving an eye to go to some event but now that I hear about your dilemma, I don't think it would be such a great trade-off. There is definitely next year - perhaps we'll have a chance to meet (and that your eyes are quite healthy to see all the food!) 8-)

    Kat - I so wish I could've been there, too! Thanks for telling me about Aunt Else's - I'm glad Chad & company made it out there. Saw photos of you with other foodies! 8-)

    Chef E - Oh, I hope you make it out to some of those NYC events! Although there are food expositions and other events here in MN, it never seems to be the right time (or right budget) for me. Someday! If I make it out to the East Coast, we will have to get together!

    Gera - I'm complaining about not being able to go but I can imagine how it is for international bloggers! I would take any opportunity to visit Uruguay, especially if it's food-related!

    Reeni - Thank you! Here's to hoping that those of us who missed it this year will get to go next! I'd love to meet you. 8-)

    Heather - Thanks! I'm glad the festival did so well - it ensures that they'll have it again next year so we can go!

    Christine - I've gotten so used to all these great events on either coasts (Chicago is the closest but still about 6-8hr drive from Mpls). But that's okay - I'm always optimistic for my chances to go. 8-D

    Lele - Thank you! I'm still coming across blog posts about the festival but at least it gives me something to look forward to next year!

    Erica - Thanks! All of us who missed it this year should get together and urge each other on for next year! 8-)

    Andrea - Thank you so much! And I really enjoyed your recap and photos of the festival. So cool that you got together with Lori and LouAnn! Maybe next year, I'll join you all!

    Lisa - I told myself that there was no point in submitting if I couldn't go even if I was miraculously chosen. 8-/ But my consolation was that it did turn out nicely (with a few more trial runs, I think they'll be even better).

    Juliana - The baked ones were definitely less oily than the fried ones (although I will use a lot less oil to fry next time). You got the dilemma - taste or texture? Both were good; now, if only I can merge them into one! 8-)

  • Tangled Noodle said...

    Palidor - Thank you so much! I'm definitely going to be positive and believe that I'll make it to the fest next year. In the meantime, I'm on the lookout for more events - heard of any in Canada? I grew up in Ottawa but only got as far as Toronto and Montreal for trips. It's be big country and I'd love to see more!

    Sarah - I read about that! SF definitely gets so much of the foodie attention but LA is just as diverse. My sisters are in the Redondo Beach area and I hope we'll be visiting them soon. Perhaps, The Gorbals will be in the cards . . .

    Forager - These really were super-easy! One change I'd make (if not substituting the seafood) would be to add even more crab! Thanks!

    OPC - You deserve the credit for encouraging me! I remember how you suggested I read Pam Anderson's book and it made me determined to learn to trust my instincts. So thank you so much for the TTBAR award! 8-D I promised to visit your site but still haven't done so, even though I've seen your tweets about new postings. Soooo very sorry but I promise that as soon as I can, I'll head over!

    Sophia - Thank you! We'll have to check it out together when we make it out to LA to visit family! Thanks so much for sharing your experience at the Fest - it was the next best thing to actually being there. 8-)

    Velva - Thank you! And if I make it, too, I'll be sure to look for you! 8-)

    Pigpigscorner - I know what you mean! Still, it was fun to read the posts and daydream about being there. 8-)

    Mardi - I would've loved to have seen you at the Bertolli Kitchen! Definitely, we'll have to get together when you're in Mpls. Keep me posted on dates and we'll meet up!

    OysterCulture - That was definitely a big reason that I couldn't go! It's already hard enough keeping up with blog reading, posting and commenting - I would've been a total wreck and so behind in classes if I'd been able to make it out. However, after seeing all the food and the chance to meet so many blog friends, it would've been worth it! See you soon!

    Midge - I'd love to hear more about the food events in the Philippines! We will be visiting my family in Makati during the holidays - I'll have to check out your blog for some resto ideas and maybe even events!


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