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Pete’s Paella Recipe
There are as many paella recipes as there are people who cook paella, mine is loosely based around the ones my family cooked when i was a kid in Madrid. The ones we had usually had some pork, as well as sea food (never Chorizo, Jamie Oliver!)
Because Claudia is a pescatarian, this one subsititutes the pork with fresh tuna.
I am a firm believer that the secret of a good paella comes down to three things
- A good stock - paella is primarily a rice dish and rice doesn’t have a lot of flavour. If you use a stock cube, that’s what the paella will taste of.
- Don’t stir - the difference between paella and risotto is cheese and starch, to release the starch you stir risotto The texture of paella is different so, after the initial quick stir, leave it to cook slowly. That is why they use a wide shallow pan.
- Use good quality fish and seafood - kind of obvious but you don’t actually need a lot of seafood so buy good stuff from the fish monger, it really makes a lot of difference. The fish monger in Begur is excellent.
I adapt amounts depending on how many I’m cooking for, but the left overs warm up well so I tend to err on the side caution and make too much!
I am assuming a decent sized paella in a pan around 18 inches wide which will feed 8-12 people. The villas sleep 12 so we tend to cook in quantity.
Frozen cooked Atlantic prawns in their shells (for the stock) about 500g - defrosted
8-10 large good quality raw prawns in the shell (to decorate the top)
2-3 large squid (or more smaller ones)
A fat tuna steak (about 2 inches cut from the fat end of the loin, ask the fish monger, they often open a fresh one for this)
500g of mussels
300g of clams
A large carrot
2 large onions
2 red peppers
A handful of olives
1 teaspoon Turmeric or pinch of saffron, my Spanish family usually use “colorante” from Spanish supermarkets which is mostly turmeric
Time to prepare including stock - 1 hour
Time to cook - about 25 minutes
The first job is to peel the prawns (the small cooked ones, not the large ones). Put all the shells into a large sauce pan and the peeled prawns in a plate to use later. Add around 1 litre of water to the pan and bring to the boil, them lower the temperature and simmer for at least half an hour.
While the stock is simmering I like to prepare all the other ingredients. This recipe lends itself to TV show style cooking, and having everything peeled and chopped makes it much easier than chopping as you go along. So while the stock is cooking, I do the following
- peel and grate the carrot
- peel and chop the onions into small pieces
- chop the peppers into slices, getting rid of the core
- clean and cut the squid into rings and the tentacles into small pieces
- clean the mussels and clams and remove the beards
- Chop the tuna into cubes that are about 1 inch squares
40 minutes or so before I want the food I start the fun bit
- Heat some oil in the paella and add the onions peppers and stir - cook for about 5 minutes until it starts to soften
- add the squid and shallow from for a couple of minutes
- add the rice and grated carrot and more oil if needed, you want to fry the uncooked rice for a couple of minutes, while stiring so it doesn’t stick.
- add some of the stock from the saucepan and the turmeric or safron, enough to cover all the rice, I usually add about half of what was in the pan
- Lower the heat and spread rice so it is equally spread over the paella pan, on a barbecue I would raise the level above the fire here. No more stirring from this point!
- After it has cooked for about 5 minutes, start placing the tuna chunks around the pan and arranging the mussels and clams. I like to arrange the mussels, hinge down in a circle and arrange the other stuff around them.
- about 5 minutes later put the large prawns on in a circle, all facing the same way.
- The prawns and tuna will need to be turned once to make sure they are cooked both sides, so lift occasionally and flip them when needed.
- As the rice cooks, you can move the pan, and shake the pan (use a tea towel as paella handles get hot), but remember, no stiring! If you get a bit of burning on the bottom, lower the heat and don’t panic, the burnt bits are many people’s favourite.
- When the rice is nearly done, turn off the heat, sprinkle on some olives and the small cooked prawns you put aside after peeling them for the stock. Cover with a tea towel and leave to sit for 5 minutes while you reward yourself with a glass of wine.
Place the paella pan in the centre of the table and when the guests are all sat down, whip off the tea towel to thunderous applause.
Serve people a small amount on their plate and encourage them to help themselves to more.
Wine pairing - goes well with a full bodied white wine like an anbariño or an aged white Rioja but don’t be scared to have red wine with it. The flavours are strong and a chilled red Rioja is what my Spanish father would have.