If you feel the urge to try your hand at Latin style cooking, why not cook up a storm with an authentic paella dish. Although incorrectly considered by most outsiders to be the national dish of Spain, this lovely rice- based dish is the regional favorite of Valencia and is comparable to Indian style biryani or a Spanish version of jambalaya. There are different variations of paella like the seafood paella, mixed paella and the traditional “paella valenciana”.Paella sky rocketed to international fame when Valencian chef Juan Galbis entered the Guinness World Records in 1992 for creating the world’s largest paella. He made use of a gigantic “paellara” (a wide, shallow pan with looped handles) to feed around 100,000 people!
Paella is enjoyed world wide for health benefits and in keeping with its European roots; lot of importance is given to choosing the freshest ingredients. Locally sourced ingredients of this delicious feast for the senses include calasparra or bomba rice, saffron and olive oil. So, try and get your hand on these products to make your paella even more awesome!
Recipe for Paella (Serves 4 people):
Time for preparation: 30-45 mins
- 1/4 lb mussels, cleaned
- 1/4 lb cockles or clams, cleaned
- 1/4 lb squid, sliced into 1/4-inch rings
- 1/4 lb swordfish (or tuna), bite-size pieces
- 1/4 lb fresh prawns
- 1 large ripe tomato, diced
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 small red pepper, diced
- 1 small yellow/orange pepper, diced
- 1/2 cup fresh Italian parsley
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2-3 strands saffron
- 1 lb paella rice (short grain)
- 1.5-2 pints fish or chicken stock
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tbsp fish/oyster sauce
- 2 tbsp rice vinegar
- Salt and pepper to taste
- In a large paella pan, heat the olive oil and add onion, garlic, peppers and tomatoes.
- Cook on medium heat until the vegetables begin to soften.
- Add the squid and swordfish. Cook for 5 mins, and then turn the heat to low.
- Steam the cockles and mussels separately until they begin to open. Set aside.
- Add the rice to the pan; mix it up with the fish to coat everything well with the olive oil. Cook for 3-4 mins.
- Add the broth to the rice slowly and with a slow stir. Cook on a high heat for five minutes then lower the heat.
- In a mortar, mash the saffron strands, some salt, the parsley & a tbsp of water. Mix well.
- Add this parsley mixture to the paella pan and mix well. Cook for 10 mins, stirring occasionally.
- Going back to the mussels, either spoon out all the meat to use or keep half shells with meat & discard the empty halves.
- Add the prawns and cockles to the dish and cook for a further 5 mins.
- When the stock is absorbed by the rice, turn off the heat and add the mussels.
- Add the fish/oyster sauce and rice vinegar and toss well.
- Cover the dish and allow the paella to rest for a few mins.
Paella is best enjoyed outdoors with a glass of sangria or cava (Spanish sparkling wine)!