This seafood paella looks striking yet it couldn’t be easier to make. Unlike a risotto, a paella is cooked without stirring, which gives it a wonderful caramelised base, where the rice has browned and become sticky.
The key to making paella is to allow the rice to cook in the stock, undisturbed
It’s not necessary to use a paella pan – a normal frying pan will do the trick. Just make sure it’s large enough to hold all of the fish.
This recipe is taken from my first cookbook, In One Pot: Fresh Recipes for Every Occasion, W&N, 2013.
Photo courtesy of Simon Wheeler.
A selection of any of the following – approx 1.5kg:
- prawns in their shell
- clams, cleaned
- mussels, cleaned
- squid, thickly sliced
- monkfish or halibut pieces, skin removed and cubed
For the paella
- 6 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large onion, diced
- 1 green pepper, deseeded and finely chopped
- 4garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 350g paella rice
- 150ml white wine or dry sherry
- pinch saffron
- 1 litre hot fish stock or water
- juice of 1 lemon
- 20g bunch flat leaf parsley, chopped
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Prepare shellfish throwing away any broken or open shells, wash in cold water and removing the beard from the mussels
- In a large, flat-based paella pan or frying pan, heat 4 tablespoons of the oil. Quickly fry the squid, scallops and fish pieces to brown all over. Remove and set aside.
- Heat the rest of the oil in the pan and add the onions and pepper along with a good pinch of salt. Gently cook for 10 minutes then add the garlic and continue to cook for another 5 minutes or so. Pour in the rice and season well, then stir to coat in the vegetables and oil.
- Pour in the wine or sherry and sprinkle over the saffron. Let it bubble for a couple of minutes, then add the stock (or water) and season well. Turn the heat down to medium-low so the mixture bubbles just slightly.
- From this point on, resist the temptation to stir the rice. The key to making paella is to allow the rice to cook in the stock, undisturbed. Let the paella cook, uncovered for about 10 minute; the rice will begin to absorb the stock and will start to look sticky.
- Return the browned fish to the pan, then add the mussels, clams and prawns (if using). With a wooden-spoon, gently dig them into the rice base. If it looks dry, add a splash more water, then cover with foil and cook for a further 10 minutes, so the mussels open and the fish cooks.
- Turn off the heat and leave to sit for 5 minutes or so. Remove the foil; the rice should be sticky, cooked and brown at the edges.
- Sprinkle over the lemon juice and parsley to serve.