I love rice and I love seafood. Let’s just say it was about time we made some paella here at that other cooking blog.
Ingredients (makes about 4 servings):
1 1/2 cup of paella rice. Bomba.
1/2 yellow onion. Small dice.
4-6 garlic cloves. Finely chopped.
24-32 saffron strands.
1-2 tsp sweet paprika (pimenton)
2 Tbsp tomato sauce
2-3 Tbsp sweet peas. Cooked.
3 Tbsp EVO
2-3 cups fish stock
8 prawns, like tiger prawns. Shells on. Deveined.
8 squids. Tubes and legs.
4-6 Jumbo scallops.
4-6 manila clams.
Salt and pepper.
Prep, prep, pre.
Get all your ingredients ready and chopped and measured as specified in the ingredient’s list. By doing this not only you streamline the process but you also reduce the anxiety levels to a minimum. I many times skip prep and I regret it invariably. I can’t stress this enough, get your shit together. You will be done cooking a lot sooner and your food will taste its best because you will have time to focus and control the process.
Should I soak the rice?
Don’t really need to but I do like to wash it in tap water to remove some of the surface starch. I have cooked paella skipping this entirely. The rice is a bit too sticky but definitely enjoyable. If you want a fluffier paella then soak and drain your rice until the water runs clear. Or any where in the middle.
Cooking the seafood first or last.
The shellfish I cook last. It basically steams on top of the rice but the shrimp, scallops and squid on the other hand I really like cooking separately. It makes the process a little bit less straight forward but I think the reward justifies it. I like to get some caramelization on these ingredients and that’s why I like to cook them first. It’s also easier to control how these are cooked. As you know, shrimp, squid, scallops, all cook very quickly but there are differences in cooking times.
- Shrimp will cook over a really hot pan in a matter of about 2 minutes or less.
- Squid will probably take less. About a minute or so.
- Scallops takes the longest. It’s about 3 minutes per side to really get a nice caramelization.
I also like to use dry vermouth as I cook each of them. A little splash to deglaze the pan. I reserve all the pan juices too. This is actually very important. Nothing goes to waste. These juices will be added later to the pan. It’s liquid gold.
Now that you’re done cooking these, reserve aside. You will be adding them to the pan towards the end.
So what’s next? Sofrito?
Get a big pan over medium heat. Add the onion and the tomato sauce and cook until dark brown. Add the garlic, the saffron and the paprika. Cook for a minute or so. Do not let the garlic burn. That’s game over. Don’t let the olive oil burn either. That’s also game over. Once olive oil smokes you pretty much gotta stop. Throw that oil away and wash that pan and start over.
Enter the rice.
Add the rice to the pan and mix well with the sofrito. No need to add the water immediately. You can actually toast the rice for a few minutes. Now… let’s add the stock. If you want a less fish flavored paella you can use chicken stock or even water. I love fish stock and don’t shy from it. Up to you. Add all the liquid at once (including those pan juices from cooking the seafood). Per each cup of rice use about 2 cups of liquid. And keep some handy just in case. Add salt at this point. Season to taste. Yeah, get in there with a spoon and scoop up some of the stock and fine-tune that seasoning. Keep in mind though… there will be evaporation so the salt concentration will rise towards the end of the cooking. Don’t over-salt.
Paella doesn’t really require any stirring which is awesome. If you have a pretty good pan you can probably do the whole thing over the stove on medium low heat. As long as the water is simmering you’re good. If you aren’t sure your pan can conduct heat well you can finish the paella in the oven at about 300F until done. The water will be absorbed by the rice and the rice will be cooked with just a bit of bite to it. Not too soft.
As you know… shellfish must have their shells shut when you are ready to cook them. That’s a sign of life. If a mollusc dies, the shell opens up and doesn’t close when you touch it. If you have dead shellfish is probably best you discard them. Keep the live ones and proceed.
The best way to cook these is by steaming them over the rice so the rice has to be just about ready. Place the shellfish over the rice and cover the pan. You can use a lid or some tin foil. Steam for about 5 minutes and check. If the shells are still shut, give it another 5. They will eventually pop open.
Squids, shrimps and scallops, back in the game!
Add the previously cooked little guys on top of your rice and arrange them as nicely as your artistic skills allow it. If you think your seafood wasn’t fully cooked the first time here’s your chance to redeem yourself. Just like the shellfish, steam these for a couple of minutes if needed.
Wrap it up.
Well, you’re basically done at this point. Time to add one of my favorite accents to seafood paella. Petit pois!!! Love the sweetness in sweet peas. Really works well with everything in this dish. It’s crazy something so seemingly inconsequential can bring so much happiness to a dish.
One last thing! I gotta mention this one, it might seem obvious but I don’t wanna risk it. The one ingredient that takes seafood paella to the next level is lemon juice. Paella, after a few squirts of lemon juices becomes PAELLA.
If I didn’t have lemons but had all the other ingredients, I’d probably choose to cook something else.
A few years ago I posted about this very same dish. Click here to check it out!
Have a great week guys!!!!