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Paella is a typical Spanish dish and is traditionally cooked in a "paellera" - a round flat pan with two handles - which is then put on the table. It is normally made using shellfish but can also be made with chicken. In many Spanish villages, especially in coastal areas, they use a giant paellera to cook a paella on festival days which is big enough to feed everybody.
A paella is very flexible so if you don’t have the exact ingredients or if you find some of them hard to get hold of, substitute them for something similar. Getting fresh shellfish can be a problem, but you can always use frozen fish and use fish or chicken stock instead of water to increase the flavour.
There are literally hundreds of ways to cook a paella and every cook has their own favourite recipe. Here’s mine (it will serve 6 people depending on how hungry you are), and is loosely based on a Filipino recipe style that my wife enjoys.
You will need
1x brown onion, finely chopped
1x cup green peas
1x red capsicum
1x can chopped tomato
200g prawns (if using cooked prawns substitute fish stock for the water)
300g cockles in shell
24x mussels (5 or 7 left in shell for presentation)
1x Spanish chorizo sliced thinly
500g rice (traditionally short grain rice is used but I prefer to use medium grain)
2 cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped
A pinch of saffron strands (if you can’t get saffron, use yellow food colouring instead and add it once you have added the liquid)
A sprig of parsley, finely chopped
1-2 ltr chicken / fish stock
1x cup white wine
Mussels: Wash the mussels, removing the beards. Throw away any that don’t shut on contact with water. Steam open reserving 5 or so for presentation
Cockles : Wash in water and then put in a bowl with some salt so that the grit comes out. Throw away any that are open.
Prawns : Whether you peel them or not is up to you. If you decide to peel them, save the shells and boil in water for about t ten minutes. Save the liquid and add later instead of water.
Garlic: In a pestle and mortar, grind the garlic, saffron (if using), parsley and a pinch of salt.
Heat some olive oil in a large frying pan. Add the onion, garlic & red capsicum and fry gently for about five minutes or until onion is soft.
Add the chopped tomato and fry on a low heat for another ten minutes. Pour in the white wine and reduce right down until very little liquid is left.
Meanwhile bring the stock to the boil and add in saffron threads, return to a low simmer season with salt.
Add the rice and stir well to make sure that it is thoroughly coated then slowly pour in a little at a time the stock.
Turn the heat right down and cook very slowly. Stirring occasionally.
Add the pre cooked prawns, mussel meat, chorizo sausage and cockles along with the peas and give it a stir.
Checking that it has enough stock and add more as required.
Once the rice is cooked, and al dente it is ready to eat.
Arrange the mussels in the shells on top then place into a warm oven for 20 -30 minutes to rest and allow to settle.
Sprinkle with parsley and serve with a crusty bread and Anchorage Rose or Pinot Noir.
Chefs tip:- I will sometimes use squid and place diagonal cuts through it for effect. Add at the same time as the cockles and mussel meat. Another good option is Monk fish, hapuka or any thick fleshed fish fillets, tua tua may also be added as would pipi instead of cockles.
For more recipes check out Derek the Chef Online @ www.derekthechef.co.nz