Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Seafood Paella


I love paella. I've just never made it before. But for Christmas my cousin Tiffany gave me a cookbook for authentic Spanish fare; and for my 40th birthday, my friend Jenn gave me a paella pan. It was a sign. So, after a hike through an archery range yesterday, we stopped at a local fish market and I picked up a some seafood to make the 'Seafood' Paella' in the book. I'll try 'Esperanza's Paella' soon. 

Bear in mind that I never actually follow recipes. I use them as jumping off points for a culinary adventure of my own.

The verdict from my peanut gallery: "This is better than the paella we just had from Gerard's Paella in San Mateo." Sweet.

The Seafood
Feel free to substitute with what you have readily available. I went with what was local (mostly) and fresh (absolutely).

6-8 clams
6-8 mussels
1 rock cod filet, sliced into 1" pieces
6-8 scallops
generous handful of squid tubes

Everything Else
pinch of saffron (between 20-30 threads) steeped in 2 T hot water
olive oil
1 onion, peeled and diced
3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
5 tomatoes, diced
3-4 C fish stock (or use chicken)
2 C rice
freshly ground salt
freshly ground pepper
sweet lime, wedged
2 T fresh herbs (I used dill and Italian flat-leaf parsley)


In your paella pan, heat a splash of olive oil, then cook the onions and garlic until they begin to soften. Add the tomatoes and cook until they dissolve to form a sauce.

Stir in the squid and fish. Cook for 3-5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Pour in the saffron-water mixture and the stock. Add in the rice and stir to coat completely with liquid. That should be the last time you stir - "this is not risotto" instructed my cookbook. Okay.

Tuck the scallops into the rice and cook on medium-high heat, uncovered for 15-20 minutes. The rice should begin to soften. Add more liquid, if needed. In the meantime, soak the shellfish in cold water and drain off any sand that that been released. Press the clams and mussels into the rice, reduce the heat to medium, and cover the pan with foil. Cook for another 8-10 minutes. Then remove the pan from the heat - but don't peak! - and let it rest for 5 more minutes.

Before serving press lemon or lime wedges into the dish and  sprinkle with fresh herbs. Serve hot.

Perfect paella is all about the rice, or so I've read. It should be tender, but al dente - never mushy - and with a caramelized crust on the bottom of the pan, called a socarrat. I didn't achieve that socarrat, so, I'll have to keep on trying.

I know that there are probably as many variations of this dish as there are Spanish cooks. Do you have a paella recipe that you just adore? I would love to hear it. I have this new pan, after all, and can never make anything the same way twice. Comment below. Or email me at constantmotioncamilla [at] gmail [dot] com.

2 comments:

  1. We aren't big seafood eaters but The Hubs covets a paella pan! :) Go figure?

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    Replies
    1. I think he could use it for a rabbit-rice dish I found a recipe for! ;)

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