Thursday, February 27, 2020

On the MENU This Week. Perfect Seafood Paella

Lynne was taught to make Paella in London by a Spaniard, but the recipe she used until now is very different from this version of a Seafood Paella. It is just the weather for something like this and again the ingredients come mainly from the store cupboard and the freezer. She recently bought a packet of mixed seafood at a wholesaler and, while this is not a perfect solution, it does work well in dishes like this. We did not have mussels, so there are none in the picture

Finding Ingredients
The one ingredient you must have is good fish or seafood stock. If you can make your own using prawn shells, crayfish shells, fish etc, fantastic, or you can buy fish stock at Woolworths or find seafood stock cubes at Italian or Spanish suppliers. And there you will also find the correct Bomba Rice. Try Sagra Foods in Montague Gardens, shop open between 10 and 3 Monday to Friday. They have boxes of the Montsia brand, they also have Saffron, Smoked Spanish Paprika and may have fish stock cubes. Good Chorizo sausage is now found in all our big local supermarkets.
I know there is a lot of detail to this recipe, but if you do the preparation beforehand, it is actually quite simple to put together. This recipe makes enough for 4 servings, but you can double it up and make a large one for the perfect Sunday lunch or supper with friends. Lynne uses a 25 cm pan; if you double up you will need a 34 cm pan. There is a lot of oil used in this recipe, it is essential for the perfect Paella, as it helps to make the Soccerat, the crusty caramelised bottom at the end. Using the right ratio of rice to stock is very important – if you use too much liquid, the Paella will go mushy, too little and it will be dry.
60 ml Extra Virgin Olive oil – ½ an onion thinly sliced - 2 cloves of garlic , thinly sliced – half a chorizo cut into bite size slices - two good pinches of saffron (about 1/3 of a gram)– 1 cup of Bomba Paella rice - 1 teaspoon Smoked Spanish Paprika – half a cup of tomato passata – 1 bay leaf – exactly 275 ml good fish or seafood stock – salt & freshly ground black pepper – 2 cups seafood mix or calamari – 1 cup peeled prawns – 8 to 10 cleaned mussels
In your wide 25 cm Paella pan, heat the oil and gently fry the onion till soft, then add the garlic and fry for another minute or two. Do not brown. Add the chorizo and fry for 2 minutes. Soak the saffron in a tablespoon of warm water in a small bowl for a minute or two. Add the rice to the pan and let it toast for a minute or two, it will start to go transparent. Then add the smoked Paprika, stir to warm it, then add the tomato passata. Add the saffron to the dish with its soaking water and the bay leaf. Add the measured amount of fish stock (If using stock cubes, dissolve them in the correct amount of warm water before adding). Stir to combine all the ingredients. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Bring to a slow simmer and then arrange all your seafood on top and semi submerge it in the stock and rice. Do not stir the Paella again – this is important. Allow to simmer for 15 minutes or until the stock is disappearing.
While it is simmering, roast or char the red pepper until the skin is blackening, then pop it into a sealed plastic bag until it has steamed and cooled. Peel off the charred skin, remove the seeds and stem and cut into slices. Set aside.
When most of the stock has been absorbed, you will see a little oil come to the surface. Watch the paella closely. You will begin to smell a subtle toasted rice smell. This is the crisp soccerat layer forming on the bottom of the pan. You must be brave and let it happen. BUT you must not let it burn. Scatter over the red pepper slices, turn off the heat and cover the pan for 10 minutes to finish cooking the rice and seafood. Serve with lemon slices and a good robust rosé wine like our Wine of the Week, the Strawberry Rosé from Woolworths or, on a hot day, a jug of Sangria.

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