As a nation, we seem to be obsessed with making risotto which requires half an hour of constant stirring, the results are always great but it's a commitment. The beauty of making a paella - NO STIRRING! Get it on and go and do something else, the results are also just as tasty.
There are so many variations of this Catalan classic and (just like a risotto) there are so many different ingredients that you can use. When by the coast, fish and shellfish rule; then further inland, chicken, rabbit, sausage are the key. To make a good paella, there are a few things that you need to get right, the rest will take care of itself.
Good Spanish rice is essential, the Valencian short-grain rice differs slightly from the likes of Italian Arborio in that it's slightly less starchy - you're not aiming for a creamy risotto. A good rice will be much more forgiving and hold much better in the pan.
A good stock will bring everything together and provide the right depth of flavour, if you're making a seafood paella then a shellfish stock is perfect, but tricky to make (unless you happen to have lots of lobster and prawn shells to hand). Our Navarrico Fish Fumet is a fantastic solution - it has the perfect flavour - you simply dilute the 500ml bottle with 500ml of water to give you one litre of stock.
Nora peppers are used in traditional paella, they are small round dried peppers without any heat that look a little like a cascabel chilli. They are hard to find but a secret ingredient used in paella and lots of other Spanish recipes like Romesco sauce, soups and stews. Needless to say, we have a handy nora pepper paste that keeps really well in the fridge and adds that extra depth and authentic flavour.
Other than a good smoked paprika and some saffron, your choice of seafood is pretty interchangeable - clams, langoustines are all good, you can omit the fish and just use squid and mussels, it's up to you.
It's also up to you whether you serve a garlic mayo alongside - I love it as it adds a hint of creamy contrast to the rich flavours, but it's up to you.
Ingredients for Seafood Paella
350g Paella Rice
2ltrs fish stock (2 x bottles of Navarrico Fish Fumet with 1 litre of water)
A pinch of Spanish saffron
300g squid, cleaned and roughly cut
400g fresh mussels, cleaned and debearded
400g king prawns (I used shell-on for this picture but would prefer shelled)
400g skinless white fish (cod, haddock, hake etc), cut into chunks
4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2tsp smoked paprika
2tsp Nora pepper paste
2 large fresh tomatoes
A few sprigs of parsley, leaves picked
A good few glugs of extra virgin olive oil
1. Start by gently warming the fish stock in a large pan with a pinch of saffron to infuse into the stock.
2. Prepare the fish and clean the squid and shellfish.
3. Peel and dice the garlic, pick the parsley and cut the lemon wedges.
4. In a small food processor/blender/nutribullet or what ever you have, blitz the fresh tomatoes together with the nora pepper paste until it's a smooth sauce.
5. Heat a paella pan or large frying pan, add a good glug of extra virgin olive oil and fry the squid for 3 or 4 minutes.
6. Add the garlic and fry for a further 20 seconds before adding the smoked paprika and then the tomato and nora pepper sauce. Let this bubble for about 30 seconds, stirring, before adding in the paella rice.
7. Mix the rice into all the flavours you have in the pan and cook them together for around 30 seconds. Then pour all the fish stock into the pan, mix them around a little at the start and then leave it to simmer (quite vigourously) for around 15 minutes.
8. Meanwhile, make the aioli. Separate the egg yolk and mix with the garlic, salt and red wine vinegar. Place a cloth under your bowl to stop it moving about and slowly whisk in the olive oil. The mayonnaise will start thickening up as you whisk in the oil, once you've added about half the oil, add in a tablespoon of cold water. The cold water helps to stabilize your mayonnaise and stop it from splitting, it also loosens the consistency to make it more of a drizzling mayo - you may decide to add more than 1 tablespoon of cold water to get the right consistency.
9. After 15 minutes, a fair amount of the stock should have been absorbed and it will look less 'soupy', time to add in the fish, the mussels and the prawns - poke the fish into the remaining liquid then scatter the mussels and prawn over the top.
10. Lower the heat and cook for a further 5 minutes. If at any point it's looking too dry, just add a little bit of boiling water from the kettle. After around 5 minutes, turn the heat off completely.
11. It's important to allow your paella to rest, for at least 10 minutes.
12. When ready to eat, scatter over some fresh parsley and serve with lemon wedges and the aioli.
Enjoy! Foodies, don't forget to leave a review for my recipe when you make this at home. Happy cooking, Ben.
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