Paella

Mediterranean Food and Sun

Ok, this is my first entry in the blog and my hope is to have a very open blog where everybody can contribute, ask me about anything (about cooking and even non-cooking issues), and this way keep a very openminded blog. 

I live in the greater Barcelona region in Spain, in a small village just by the sunsparked Mediterranean. This is a great place to live in, with plenty of wonderful fresh produce, as I will talk about in other posts, good restaurants, an easygoing attitude, beautiful beaches and scenery. My philosophy in cooking is using fresh, local, and seasonal produce (of course there are quite a few exceptions used in my cooking). I don't like cutting corners when I cook. Which means that if e.g. a nice, rich soup need 10 hours of cooking... that's what it gets. I also love going to the local farmers market and buy the vegetables and fruit of them. What I still haven't done though is going to the fish auction. Basically because I don't know where and when I should go (I know... very early), and if I need some sort of special license to go there. When I go I will take a few pictures though, for you to see how a real Mediterranean fish auction looks like.

 I thought I would give you the "real deal" in paella making. The Spanish "national dish". A paella can be made of anything (seafood, inland, vegetables, etc), and every chef/cook/home cook, etc, has his/her own way of making the paella, not only by ingredients, but also by using different techniques. However, I will explain how I make paella. Or rather, how I prefer the paella.

 For 4 servings you will need the following:

 

  • 1 fresh cuttlefish (aprox. 400-500 gr.)
  • 12 fresh shrimps
  • 4 fresh crayfish
  • 250 gr. mussels
  • 250 gr. clams
  • fish stock
  • 1 green pepper (italian type is best)
  • 1 onion
  • 2 medium tomatoes
  • five handfuls of rice (I know, not very orthodox way to write a recipe, but it works fine). I.e one handful per person + one for the pan (the Spanish way of measuring)
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • parsley
  • saffron

 

Pour some olive oil in the paella pan. That's a broad and low pan if you haven't seen one before. Fry the shrimps and the crayfish just a few seconds, just enough for the olive oil to get the flavour. Remove and reserve.

Clean and dice the cuttlefish in 2x2 or even 3x3 cm. VERY IMPORTANT! Reserve the green liver for later use. Fry the cuttlefish 3-4 min, until it starts expelling water. You can hear it by the noise it makes, the same when water comes in contact with hot oil. Then add the chopped onion and green pepper. Don't use too much of green pepper as it would dominate the flavour. Sizzle for 4-5 minutes. Make sure the onion doesn't roast and the green pepper burn (of course).

Peel and chop the tomatoes in small dices (brunoise). Add them to the paella. Sizzle for 5 minutes. Add the cuttlefish liver you previously reserved. The easiest way is to either cut it up with a knife, or even cleaner is to cut it with a pair of scissors. The liver is a thick sauce-like "gunk" (sorry about the poor explanation). Let it blend well with everything else in the pan.

Clean the mussels and boil them in some water. No need to cover the mussels. Strain the mussels and keep the water. We will use it to add richness to the stock.

Now's the time for the rice. Add it and blend it well with everything. Don't add any stock quite yet. Let it fry in the pan while you stir it for a couple of minutes.

Now you add the stock and the water form the mussels, just enough to barely cover the rice. I always stir during the cooking process, and add stock just a risotto, because I like my paella to be "moisty", but if you like it to be dry, don't stir and add as much water as you will need. Salt the paella, but be careful though, as the stock made from fish and the water from the mussels has salt. 

After 12 minutes add the saffron, crush the garlic and parsley in a mortar and add that too. 5 minutes before the rice is ready, add the clams and the mussels. The last couple of minutes I add the crayfish, and finally the shrimps.

If you're as lucky as I am that you can make the paella over woodfire, that's the most preferrable.

I wanted to add a picture of a paella I made a couple of weeks ago but I will have to learn how to do that.

 

Bon profit!