During my younger sister visits from the USA. What’s the best way to welcome her and her family other than a home made paella dish.
Paella is one of the most popular and famous of global dishes. Paella is the name for the cooking pan itself, and not the dish.
Valencia in eastern Spain is the home of paella. It is one of the largest natural ports in the Mediterranean and has been one of the most important rice producing area in Spain, since rice was introduced by the MOORS over 1200 years ago.
The dish paella is said to be a perfect union between two cultures from spin. The Roman, for the pan and the Arab, that brought rice. In fact the Spanish word for rice is “ARROZ” which is derived from Arabic, not Latin. Arabs introduced rice in Valencia. There is an old story of how the Moorish kings’ servant created rice dishes by mixing the left over from royal banquets in large pots to take home.
The word “paella” is derived from the Arabic word “BAQIYAH”, which means leftovers. Once again the emphasizing both dish’s humble and Arabic beginnings. Also in Islamic Andalusia Spain, symbolic dishes with rice and different meats and vegetables like casserole were cooked for special occasions. Some of the dishes may be roots of some of the paella recipes.
In other words paella a saffron flavoured dish made with varying combination of rice, vegetables, meat, chicken and seafood.
Prep time: 45 min
Cooking time: 30-45
500 g of fresh small mussels in shells
12 raw prawns in shells
500 g seafood mix mussels, squid ring and king prawns (no shell)
600g of frozen fish pieces ( smoked haddock, cod and salmon)
4 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion chopped
2 red peppers chopped
5 garlic cloves chopped
2 fresh tomatoes chopped
150g of frozen peas
1 tablespoon of paprika
Pinch of saffron threads
500g of paella rice (Bomba)
1 fish stock cubes
1 lemon to 4 wedges
2 tablespoon of chopped parsley
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
Preparing the prawns
Using a pair of sharp kitchen scissors, cut the prawns shell along the middle of the back, from nick to tail. Make a slight incision with a sharp knife, taking care not to cut deep from nick to the tail. Rinse and remove intestinal track.
Preparing the mussels
Give your mussels a quick rinse. If they are pre- cleaned. Discard any that don’t close. Place ½ cup of water in a pot. On high heat, bring the water to boil. Add the mussels and steam for 5 to 10 min with lid on. When the mussels are open they are done. Drain the mussels in a colander and let it cool.
Note: if mussels are not pre cleaned. Rinse the mussels very well, using your fingers or paring knife. Remove any barnacles, sand, grit or beards.
In a paella pan heat the olive oil.
Depend on the kind of rice you use. You may not need to soak the rise in water before cooking. But if you do it helps to speed the cooking process. When you do this, you should use less cooking water.
There is a nice crust on the bottom of the pan, slightly toasty but not totally burned. The crust is called “socarrat”. The sticking rice to the bottom of the pan is not something you want to avoid, it is one of the most succulent and seductive aspects of paella. The icing on the cake.
In order to achieve socorrat in paella, one must turn up the heat at the end of cooking and engage the senses: The rice should smell toasted, making a crackling sound, and it should feel a bit hard when you poke a spoon into the bottom of the pan. You’ve got socorrat.