Thursday, May 08, 2008


This is from a new Tapas book (out next year) I've been working on by the people from the restaurant El Parador. The method is still a bit of a work-in-progress but I like the way it's written.

Serves 6 as a main course
olive oil
4 garlic cloves, finely sliced
2 ] onions, finely sliced
2 large tomatoes, roughly chopped (you can seed and skin them if you wish, but it isn’t necessary)
2 large red peppers, finely sliced
1kg skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips
225g squid, cleaned and cut into rings (
200g raw, shelled tiger prawns
400g fresh mussels in their shells
300g monkfish fillets, cut into thin medallions
Maldon sea salt and cracked black pepper, to taste
100ml white wine
1 tablespoon tomato purée
300g calasparra rice (or paella rice of your choice)
1.5 litres vegetable, fish or chicken stock (or water, depending on what you have available)
pinch of saffron strands, soaked in a cup of hot water [this sounds like a lot of water]
2 bay leaves
74g frozen garden peas, defrosted
4 lemon wedges, to serve

Heat 12 dashes of olive oil in a large frying pan (or large, shallow casserole pan) over a low to medium heat. Add the garlic, onions, tomatoes and peppers and stir-fry very gently for about 20 minutes, or until the onions and garlic are caramelized, and the peppers are soft. Remove everything from the pan with a slotted spoon and place in a dish on one side.
Return the pan to a medium heat, add the strips of chicken and stir-fry for a few minutes until light golden brown all over. Remove with a slotted spoon and place in a dish on one side.
Return the pan to a medium/high heat with 3 more dashes of olive oil. Add the squid, prawns, mussels, [Insert: monkfish?] and 2 pinches of salt and pepper. Pour in the wine, cover and cook until the mussels open. Remove the fish/seafood with a slotted spoon and place together in a dish on one side.
Keep the pan on the heat and stir in the tomato purée. You can now start putting the cooked ingredients back into the pan. The purpose of frying everything up separately first was to build up the flavour of the paella in layers – if you had put all the ingredients in at once, they would have ended up boiling, rather than frying, and then they wouldn’t have released as much flavour into the dish.
Put all the cooked ingredients, except for the [fish?/]seafood, back into the pan and stir well. Now add the rice and stir it around to coat it in the oil. Pour over the stock (or water) [should this be heated first?], and add 2 pinches of salt and one of pepper, [Insert: the saffron, along with its soaking water,] and the bay leaves. Bring everything to the boil, [Insert: give the rice one final stir, and then turn down the heat and simmer very gently for 20–30 minutes (or however long it says on the packet), or until the rice is just cooked and the liquid is absorbed. Halfway through cooking, give the pan a couple of gentle, circular shakes to ensure the rice isn’t sticking. Do not stir with a spoon. When the rice is cooked, take the pan off the heat and stir in the peas and the fish/seafood. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and then cover with a lid and leave to stand for 5 minutes. Serve with some lemon wedges on the side.


Anonymous said...

A good one. For what it's worth (I've lived and cooked in Spain for 20 years, and my paella's only just now approaching acceptable to Valencians; they take this dish so ridiculously seriously it's the regional religion), I do heat the stock first and like many people I love the intense flavour of a thin layer of "pegadillo" (stuck to the pan) on the bottom, so I don't shake the pan too vigorously if at all.

Oh, and the saffron is to give colour as much as flavour, so a cup is about right to make sure that all the rice will turn yellow. If you just add the saffron with hardly any liquid you're likely to end up with a white disappointment with a few random too-tart orange bits in it.

Final comment: the picture looks very light on rice. 300g really isn't much at all for the kilo or so of fish and veg you're chucking in there. Most people I know calculate (I've never seen scales in a Spanish kitchen!) two generous handfuls of rice per person.

- Archie V.

Silvana said...

Hi Archie. Thanks for this. I agree about the rice to fish ratio and will suggest an adjustment. Love the sound of 'pegadillo'!