Paella.

If there’s one thing I love more than the act of cooking itself, its a relaxed, therapeutic session of prepping great ingredients and seeing a large chopping board, choca-block full of lovelies in their full glory. I knocked together this Spanish classic for New Year’s Eve after discovering that the usually reliable La Figa (sister restaurant to Wapping’s infamous Il Bordello) which I had already booked in advance had turned to the dark side like every other restaurant that night, imposing a compulsory 70 quid a head NYE set menu. Grrrrowl and no thank you. Turns out the Lobster Aurora pasta I was so craving was **not** going to be on the menu anyway.

Bee-Ee-Ay-utiful…

But not all was lost for 2009. The jolly gentleman behind the Waitrose fish counter must have sensed my crest-fallen seafood craving and decided to mark down his Madagascan Prawns and Monkfish Fillets by 20% just as I walked by the aisle. What a champion. Anyhoo, do try this recipe out and don’t be put off by the rather long list of ingredients. Its actually pretty easy to cook and all you need is some good fish stock, fresh seafood and of course some quality saffron for a great paella.

Seafood galour

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 400g paella “Bomba” rice
  • Olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 large Onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 Dried Chillies, crumbled
  • 12 Cherry Tomatoes, quartered
  • Half a jar of red Piquillo Peppers, diced
  • 1 Cup of frozen peas
  • 1 large pinch saffron threads
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp of Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 litre fish stock stock
  • 200ml white wine
  • 4 Cooking Chorizo sausages, chopped into discs
  • 8-10 large raw Prawns (shells still on)
  • 3 Squid tubes, sliced into rings
  • 400g of monkfish, chopped large bite-size cubes
  • Large handful of Parsley, rough chopped
  • Lemon

Heat a large frying pan over a high heat and fry the chorizo chunks in a few glugs of olive oil for 3-4 minutes, infusing the oil with the characteristic smoky paprika flavour. Once the Chorizo begins to colour, remove it from the pan and set aside. Turn the heat down to medium-high and fry the Prawns, Monkfish and Squid rings for 2 minutes each side. Remove the seafood just before its fully cooked with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Now sauté the onion, dried chillies and chopped garlic in the chorizo-seafood-infused olive oil for a minute or 2, then toss in the Cherry tomatoes and Piquillo peppers for a further 2 minutes of cooking. Pour in the rice, paprika and cayenne pepper and stir well, letting the rice grains toast for a minute or so before deglazing the pan with the white wine. After the wine has reduced by half, add the chorizo back in with the pinch of saffron and top up with ¾ of the fish stock. Reduce the heat to simmer and throw in the peas. The great thing about Bomba rice is that you don’t really need to babysit it while it cooks on the open pan. Just make sure everything is spread out so it cooks evenly and add the remainder of the reserved fish stock with a gentle stir if the rice starts to get a bit dry.

After 15-18 minutes, the rice should begin to soften. Scatter the seafood on top of the rice and finish cooking off the prawns, monkfish and squid for no more than 3 to 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and garnish with the parsley and large wedges of lemon.

Paella ala Guan

Now that’s what I’m calling a proper Feliz Ano Nuevo.

G.

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