Paella Valenciana

Paella Valenciana

By
From
Margaret Fulton Favourites
Serves
6-8
Photographer
Tanya Zouev and Armelle Habib

Paella is one of the glories of Spanish cuisine: deliciously flavoured and golden with saffron-infused rice, morsels of meat, seafood and vegetables. I first learnt to make paella from a Spanish-Mexican friend whose practice was to have all the ingredients ready in bowls and plates before cooking — what the French call mise en place.

With the outdoor barbecue lit and the paella pan set on the hot coals, the ritual could begin. The chicken was cooked in Spanish olive oil, then the onions, rice and so on, while we nibbled on Spanish olives and chorizo, sipping wine and admiring the skills of our host. The trick is to gently cook the paella without burning the bottom. A watchful and loving eye is essential, to move the pan around and add more stock as needed. My friend taught us how to arrange the foods attractively on the rice. At last, the paella was placed in the centre of the table and everyone helped themselves, sometimes offering little tidbits to a neighbouring guest. It was all very informal and great fun.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
5 cups * chicken stock [rid:7474]
1/2 cup olive oil
4 large chicken pieces such as half-breast or thigh fillets
1 red capsicum, sliced into strips
2 onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 1/2 cups medium shortgrain rice such as calasparra or arborio
6-7 anchovy fillets
2 tomatoes, peeled and sliced, each half into 6 wedges
1 cup shelled green peas
500g fresh, uncooked seafood such as scallops, prawns, calamari or mussels

Method

  1. Prepare all ingredients and arrange them on a tray. Bring the saffron and stock to the boil, and set aside until ready to use. Heat the oil in a large paella pan or wide, deep frying pan. You may have to straddle the pan over two burners on the stove if you are cooking indoors. Sauté the chicken pieces until golden. Remove and cut into three, removing any small bones. Set aside. Add the capsicum to the pan, cook for a few minutes, then remove and set aside.
  2. Add the onions and garlic to the pan and cook until soft. Add the rice and fry gently for 3–4 minutes, then add the stock. When the rice is bubbling, reduce the heat and start the decoration of the paella. Add the chicken, capsicum, anchovy fillets, tomatoes, green peas and seafood in a pattern around the dish. The idea is to add the seafood in the order it takes to cook. Add more stock if necessary and simmer gently until the rice is done, 20–25 minutes.
  3. Allow 2–3 pieces of each small shellfish per person, and prepare as follows.

Green (raw) prawns

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
see method for ingredients

Method

  1. These are best left whole; that is, heads, shells and tails still on. However, they may also be shelled, the heads removed, and a cut made down the back to remove the intestinal tract.

Calamari or baby squid

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
see method for ingredients

Method

  1. Gently pull the tentacles from the hood (pocket-like part) of the squid, then hold under running water to rinse away any ink. Pull out the hard material that forms the skeleton. Slice squid into rings. Cut away the hard ‘beak’ from the tentacles.

Mussels or pipis

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
see method for ingredients

Method

  1. Scrub mussels well using a good stiff brush. Pull off the beard that clings around the edges. Soak mussels or pipis in cold water — they should disgorge any sand. Discard any that are not shut tightly.

Scallops

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
see method for ingredients

Method

  1. Remove brown bits from the main scallop muscle, then rinse scallops in fresh water. Corals may be used.

Note

  • Pork can replace the chicken. Use 3–4 pork chops and cook as for chicken.

    Good kitchen shops sell paella pans. They come in a variety of sizes, ranging from small (for four serves) to large (for up to 20 people). Otherwise, use a wide, deep frying pan or baking dish.
Tags:
Margaret
Fulton
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