Who doesn’t love a seafood paella? This delightful Valencian rice dish has become a favourite around the world. Stephan Mitsch’s new book, Barcelona Cult Recipes (Murdoch Books) contains a wonderful recipe for this rich, spicy, warming seafood dish –  perfect for the coming cool winter nights here in Australia. Give it a try!

Everybody knows this Spanish rice dish, but did you know that it is named after the special pan in which it is prepared? Paella originated in the region around Valencia and Alicante. In the past, it was usually cooked on Thursdays, which was the day before fish and seafood were traditionally bought fresh again from the markets. Paella recipes vary between one region and the next, and recipes differ even between different parts of Barcelona. Try to avoid eating paella on Barcelona’s Ramblas – you’ll find it better and cheaper in other streets that are less frequented by tourists.

Serves 4–6  | Preparation: 25 minutes | Cooking and frying time: 40 minutes

Ingredients

200 ml (7 fl oz) olive oil

2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

2 dried nyora peppers from specialist suppliers or 2 g (¹⁄16 oz) saffron

1 small glass white wine

8 large prawns (shrimp)

4 large Norway lobsters or scampi

1 onion, finely chopped

250 g (9 oz) squid, finely diced

400 g (14 oz) short-grain rice (arroz bomba)

3 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and finely diced

1.5 litres (52 fl oz) fish stock

1 red capsicum (pepper), roasted, peeled and diced

200 g (7 oz) each mussels and clams (vongole), cleaned

Method

Prepare the vegetables and seafood. 

Heat a large, deep paella pan or frying pan over high heat. Add a little olive oil and fry the garlic and dried nyora peppers until golden brown. Remove the peppers from the pan and drain well on paper towel. Once cool, crush them to a fine powder in a mortar and pestle. Combine the powder with the white wine and set aside.

Heat a little olive oil in the pan over high heat. Add the prawns and Norway lobsters and sear all over, then remove from the pan and set aside.

Reduce the heat to medium and add a little more olive oil to the pan, together with the onion. Sauté until translucent, then add the diced squid and sear. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Prepare the rice.

Heat the remaining olive oil in the pan, add the rice and sauté over medium heat for 2 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, 1 litre (35 fl oz) of the fish stock and the wine mixture. Stir in the capsicum and season to taste. Increase the heat to high and boil the rice in the stock for 5 minutes, then reduce the heat again and continue to cook for another 7–8 minutes. Add more fish stock if the rice turns too dry. Season again.

Put together the paella.

Stir the clams into the rice and arrange the remaining seafood decoratively on top, with the mussels around the edge of the pan. Cover the pan and cook over medium heat until done, about 3–4 minutes. Ideally, the rice will start to stick to the pan – the crunchy rice is almost the best thing about a paella. Remove the paella from the heat and leave to rest, covered, for 5 minutes before serving.

Preparation

If you plan to cook cockles collected from a sandy beach at home, it’s best to ensure that they are given enough time to self-clean, as there’s nothing more unpleasant than chewing on sand. To do this, immerse the cockles (or any type of mussels) in a bowl of salt water a few hours before you intend to start cooking. Use 50 g (1¾ oz) salt per 1 litre (35 fl oz) water and change the water two or three times.

 

Barcelona Cult Recipes by Stephen Mitsch, Murdoch Books, RRP $49.99 Photography by Arnold Pöschl

 

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