If you follow Chew Town on Facebook you would have seen an iphone pic of the paella my friend Tracie (hitherto known as ‘supermum’) taught me to make last week. Supermum has a 2 year old girl, a 5 week old girl and a gorgeous chocolate labrador. I visited her to meet the gorgeous newborn, and whilst there was taught this fabulous recipe for seafood paella. I was in awe of how she managed to tend to all the needs of her two small children while at the same time teaching me this great dish.
Her paella tasted spectacular and I knew after tasting it that I had to try my hand at it as quickly as possible. So yesterday we called Scotty’s mum to come over while I went out to buy some great seafood.
A paella really is a wonderful one pot wonder (technically a ‘one pan wonder’) to feed a crowd. It is easy to make, can be made in large quantities, looks impressive and tastes spectacular – you can’t really ask for much more than that!
The trick to a great seafood paella is ensuring you have good quality fresh seafood (I wanted a fresh blue swimmer crab but couldn’t find one at our local fish shop), great chorizo sausage, and good quality saffron.
I felt like a paella pro in the kitchen given my private masterclass earlier in the week. I loved having a family recipe from someone esle’s cuisine for a change and it felt just as great as cooking the Italian food I am so accustomed to. I suppose it helped that paella requires absorption of stock to cook the rice, just like an Italian risotto – so I wasn’t completely out of my comfort zone.
I delivered the generous paella to the table of hungry diners and served it up (it looks small in the pictures but that’s because the prawns were massive – biggest prawn’s I’d ever seen). After the first bite I realised it tasted just like supermum’s version and I was delighted. The true test was how Scotty’s mum would go given she isn’t really a lover of seafood (except lobster which is every discerning woman’s favourite). Given how much seafood was in it, she ate her whole share – superb!
Now that I’ve had success cooking it for family, I will definitely be busting this out the next time we have many mouths to feed – while seafood can be expensive, the ratio of people fed to seafood cost per pan makes it downright cost effective!
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large chorizo sausage, sliced
1 Spanish onion, finely chopped
1 lge garlic clove, crushed
1 capsicum, 3/4 chopped and 1/4 sliced
Handful continental parsley, chopped (and a few sprigs to serve)
3/4 cup tomato passata
Handful calamari (chopped if large rings)
Handful baby calamari
Pinch red saffron threads
Pinch powdered saffron (for colour)
1 cup calaspera or long grain rice
500ml fish, chicken or vegetable stock
Salt & pepper
1 barramundi fillet, cubed
1 ling fillet, cubed
6 large ocean king prawns
6 large mussels
Heat olive oil in a medium paella pan and cook chorizo until fragrant and caramelised. Add onion and fry until translucent. Add parsley, garlic and chopped capsicum and stir well to combine, frying for two minutes. Add the tomato passata and bring to a simmer.
Add both types of calamari and then the saffron (both threads and powder) and stir until the colour intensifies. Then add rice, barramundi, ling and enough stock to cover all the ingredients. Keep on a low heat and simmer, stirring occasionally until the liquid has been absorbed.
Once absorbed taste the rice. If it still has crunch add more stock and stir occasionally until absorbed. When the rice has almost cooked but still has a soft bite, arrange the king prawns, mussels and sliced capsicums on top of the paella and cover until the seafood on top and rice underneath is cooked.
Don’t worry about not stirring the rice while the seafood on top cooks, the secret to a good paella is having the crispy bits of rice at the bottom of the pan!